Aruba Networks Monday took a big leap forward on its strategy to engage small and midsize businesses, confirming further updates to its lower-end product portfolio and a new distribution relationship with Synnex that will focus on building influence with SMB-focused VARs and the customers they serve.
Bob Bruce, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Aruba, said the vendor sees a perfect storm of opportunity thanks to the explosion of mobile devices in use by businesses of all sizes. Large or small, those businesses are using mobile devices by the hundreds to access rich media applications like video, collaborate using social networking platforms and software like Jive, and leverage cloud services such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to make employees more productive.
"This is beginning to have a profound effect on the SMB and medium enterprise as well," Bruce told CRN. "But at the SMB level, they're going to have to adjust to a challenge of too few resources at their disposal, and too much information to manage. So what they'll be looking to do is outhouse their entire IT organization to the VAR community. Mobile devices become a lot more important, and that's what we're going to focus on at Aruba as we expand our routes to market."
Aruba launched an SMB-focused family of access points earlier this year called Aruba Instant, which includes its IAP92 and IAP93 single radio 2x2 MIMO 802.11a/g/n APs for low client density, and its IAP105 dual-radio 2x2 MIMO 802.11a/g/n AP for medium client density. New to the portfolio are two APs for high-client density: the IAP134 and IAP135, which offer 802.11a/g/n in a dual-radio 3x3 MIMO configuration.
Aruba is marketing the APs as quick and easy to setup -- as quick as three minutes in some cases -- but packed with features such as rogue detection and containment and on-board adaptive radio management to assuage small business concerns about security. The APs also include Amigopod Visitor Management, OpenDNS URL filtering and AirWave Network Management to enable them easy integration with cloud-based services.
Each AP also has a virtual controller built in, and can be configured using any wireless device, without the need of an Ethernet port connection.
"You don't need to purchase an appliance or controller to manage them. You don't need any services, annual or whatever it may be, to operate them," said Salah Nassar, Aruba's senior manager for SMB products. "This is easy to sell from a channel perspective, and from a customer perspective, it's as easy to set-up as a home network, with a single point of management."
Aruba AirWave, as a platform, is not vendor-specific, Nassar noted, meaning that solution providers dealing with multi-vendor environments -- such as with products by HP, Cisco, Netgear or D-Link -- can manage those products as well.
Aruba will push hard behind the products and look to enable SMB-focused partners, as well as large Aruba partners with SMB practices, to build the vendor's presence among smaller businesses. The Synnex distribution relationship will be a big part of that, said Bruce.
"In the SMB space, Synnex brings some very unique programs in their service and support organization," he said, citing Concentrix, the Synnex-owned customer lifecycle support business, and other business units.
Aruba's Synnex relationship will not disrupt any of its existing U.S. distribution relationships, which include Avnet and Catalyst Telecom. Bruce will head Aruba's overall push into SMB, and he will be adding channel account managers specific to the effort along with other channel resources.
"The key thing we ant to ensure is that the customer experience and the VAR experience is good right off the bat," Bruce said. "Engineering, we've done a marvelous job to the point where it really is plug-and-play. That's how we'll position it."