Aruba Atmosphere 2019 (EMEA) Croatia

Last month, the Belgian and Dutch SecureLink Team went to the Aruba Atmosphere EMEA Partner Conference in Croatia. The overall goal of this conference was to explore how AI and Automation can optimize your IT infrastructure, on- and off-premise. As usual, the event provides a deep dive into Aruba’s network and security portfolio and gives the opportunity to talk to the Aruba product experts. I am quite sure you can find all information about the new portfolio on their website. That is why I would like to share my additional insights with you in this summary.

The 3 pillars of Aruba Innovation

The main keynote session was given by Keerti Melkote, founder and president of Aruba Networks. He talked about digital transformation by giving the example of the ‘Amazon Go’ shop. In this shop, there is a considerable number of cameras in the ceiling. These cameras recognize you, monitor your shopping behavior & experience, and automatically debit your account with everything you took out of the shop without the need to stop at a cashier desk. The point he wanted to make here is: digital transformation will happen at the edge.

The edge-network should be Mobile First, Cloud-native and IoT-driven. These are precisely the main pillars of the Aruba Innovation.

Let’s experience the edge as the place where people work, learn, visit and go. Where experiences are becoming smart and digital while different trends create new pressures on IT:

  • Mobile 4 billion connected things by 2020
  • Cloud More business and mobile apps are business-critical, requiring prioritization and dynamic micro-segmentation
  • IoT growth in connections, different protocols, new traffic patterns, more exposure
  • Data Too many data sources, integration challenges, difficult to gain insights

So, the edge network should be based on a Mobile-First infrastructure which is IoT-enabled and cloud-native in a fully automated and extremely secure way.

The Aruba Networks Edge architecture is purpose-built to deliver secure non-stop networking at scale based on wired, wireless and SD-Branch services topped with Aruba software based microservices with built-in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This evolution will lead to a software-defined Enterprise Infrastructure. End devices will be flexibly connected to Access Points an Access Switches with dynamic micro-segmentation and seamless mobility across subnets; policy consistency between wired and wireless; and IoT device visibility and control. This will be facilitated on a hardware underly, with standard-based protocols and a software Mobility and Policy overlay which is entirely automated and simple.

Dynamic micro-segmentation will be enforced on the campus controller clusters with dynamic user / end-station business policies, defined in Aruba ClearPass, which offers granular Network Visibility and Access Control. This visibility is Key as you cannot secure what you cannot see. The Network Authentication and Policy platform offers built-in discovery and profiling to ensure that users and devices apply business policies. The newly add-on ‘Device Insight’ greatly enhances these core discovery and profiling capabilities to identify a wide range of IoT devices in many environments through deep packet inspection, advanced machine learning (AI) and crowdsourcing device fingerprints.
No matter how devices connect, Aruba Networks’ dynamic segmentation automatically enforces consistent policies across the wired, wireless, and SD-Branch networks – keeping traffic secure and separate.

In order to combat the new era of cyber threats which are more targeted, more intelligent and more damaging, Aruba positions the Aruba 360 Secure Fabric Framework. This framework offers visibility and control on connectivity and analytics on integrated attack detection and response.  The 360 fabric closes the loop by leveraging the ClearPass role of network gatekeeper to provide attack remediation and response with the IntroSpect attack alerts or via alerts that come from over 120 technology partners. Aruba 360 Secure Fabric is clearly differentiated by the depth and comprehensiveness of the machine learning-based analytics and how the rest of the Fabric elements contribute to the effectiveness of the attack detection.

Innovation is important, and organizations need to keep up with new technology to stay competitive in their business. Instead of building all features and functions themselves or plan localized updates to systems to add these features, a cloud solution delivers these new functions on the fly. New features can easily be updated in the cloud but also easily consumed as customers want to add more of these services.

The Aruba cloud solution is the Aruba Central platform managing ArubaOS switches, Access Points and Branch Gateways all from a single dashboard. Besides from a managing tool, the Aruba Central is also your gateway towards the users, apps and your business.

Next to management, configuration, insights and more, Aruba Networks also offers extra services from the same platform such as guest Wi-Fi to gain insights into your stores or Connectivity health, all easy to activate, deploy, manage and give optimal insights while making it easy to deliver, support, install. Within the near future, all current services will be integrated in the cloud platform. There will be also a possibility to move the Aruba Central platform to a on-premises platform.

The same advantages known for cloud will be applicable for networking: easy to consume, easy to scale, always up to date, new features added on the fly, workflows, troubleshooting and more, all delivered with cloud advantage.

The launch of ‘Aruba Instant’ & live upgrades

In the afternoon, we had a scoop of the worldwide launch of the new ‘Aruba Instant’. These are fully-featured access points with a brilliant setup with built-in security. There are no subscription fees and they are managed by a user-intuitive app. It is made for the small office and the home market so there will be no upgrade path to enterprise management as with Aruba Airwave or Aruba Central.

We got more information during the technical keynotes and the break-out sessions. My favorite session was the live upgrade of the central core switches (Aruba OS-CX) with VSX. We could visually see the process on a GUI-interface. All traffic from one core switch was steered to the other score switch so the core switch could be updated and upgraded to the new OS. Then the traffic was steered to the updated one so the OS download and upgrade could be automatically executed on the second core switch. After syncing the devices and redistributing the load again, the automatic upgrade process was finished while a few thousand spectators were connected to the network.

5G or WiFi6?

Another interesting presentation at the Aruba Atmosphere Partner Conference 2019, was about the shift to the new wireless standard 802.11ax (also called WiFi 6). As people are wondering what is best to choose: 5G or WiFi 6. In fact, they are very complementary. Both technologies share enhanced features designed to improve the experience for latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video.

5G will serve specific applications in industrial and macro range use cases. WiFi 6 will continue to be the most reliable and cost-effective access technology for a broader range of use cases. While both 5G and WiFi 6 offer security features, 5G does not offer the end-to-end visibility you need for authentication of users connecting to a wireless LAN.

Aruba Core Switching Series: new releases

The latest and soon to come releases will allow the Aruba Core Switching Series to support current and new datacenter technologies including L2 fabric, L3 fabric and Spine&Leaf ECMP VXLAN & EVPN.

The Aruba Core Switching Technologies can be used in very big and complex datacenters of financial services or large enterprises. They support LIVE upgrades with ArubaOS-CX in a redundant 8400/VSX configuration and also LIVE downgrades!

Aruba SD-Branch: new features

The SD WAN orchestration enables some new features:

  • SD-WAN overlay management plane via the Aruba Central platform, entirely policy-driven
  • Auto-discovery of WAN links
  • SD WAN tunnels are orchestrated on the topology needs
  • No need for legacy routing protocols on the overlay fabric
  • Policy-driven route distribution

Conclusion

Some tips to wrap up:

  • Prepare for 5G with WiFi 6
  • Embrace and secure IoT
  • Cloudify branch connectivity
  • Enable the intelligent edge
  • leveraging network analytics and programmability to automate many networks and security functions in core and datacenters

Finally, I would like to thank Aruba Networks, my colleagues, customers, and partners for the very collaborative Atmosphere event.