Brocade, Aruba Look To Eliminate 'Cisco Lock-In' With New Joint Architecture

The new partnership announced this week builds on existing ties between Brocade and Aruba, which have traditionally worked together to ensure integration between their two technology sets.

According to Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer at Aruba, the formalized partnership announced this week is focused on developing an integrated wired and wireless solution that is purpose-built for BYOD environments.

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"Both mobility and BYOD represent a sea of changes for our customers out there, as well as some new opportunities for resellers to look differently at how networks are architected," Gibson said. "When you have Aruba and Brocade together, Aruba brings an architecture to the table that, instead of managing by the port, we have visibility over the network in terms of who you are as a user, what devices are you using and what applications are you running. These are very mobility-centric things."

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The integrated solution marries Brocade's HyperEdge architecture, designed to automate and simplify the management of campus LAN operations, with Aruba's Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture, which provides capabilities including access control and application performance monitoring. The combined product, according to both companies, creates a "mobility-centric" campus network with built-in access and policy management capabilities to help monitor and secure mobile users.

Another benefit of the Brocade-Aruba solution, according Siva Valliappan, senior director, product management, Campus Networking, at Brocade, is that it's open standards-based, meaning it prevents customers from being "locked in" to a specific networking vendor, such as Cisco.

"If you take a look at the Cisco integrated wireless and wired solution, you get locked into to those wired and wireless platforms because you are forcing both [sets of] gears to run on the same refresh cycle," Valliappan said. "We are [saying], if you want to start replacing your switching gear, you are not tied to your wireless gear."

Cisco did not respond to CRN's request for comment.

Rodney Turner, CEO of Layer 3 Communications, an Atlanta-based solution provider and partner of both Brocade and Aruba, said some of his customers today already deploy joint Brocade-Aruba environments. The formal integration between the two, though, will really help Layer 3 deliver a complete, end-to-end BYOD solution, he said.

"We're happy to see this sort of thing happening between these two companies," Turner told CRN. "It's going to make our lives a lot easier. I think what you will see as a result of this technology collaboration is the network access control functionality available from the Aruba product platform as part of their ClearPass offering, integrated with Brocade switches, and I think operational efficiencies [will be] introduced."

Turner said BYOD has been a game changer for Layer 3. The company's wireless unit today accounts for nearly 40 percent of its overall revenue, compared to roughly 18 to 20 percent in 2008. Turner said he attributes that jump to the BYOD and enterprise mobility movement.

Aruba's Gibson said there is already significant overlap between the Brocade and Aruba channels, but for those partners who are exclusive to one or the other, training programs will be rolled out to help them sell the joint solution.

"We will have the ability to, let's say for an interested Brocade partner looking to get up to speed with Aruba, ... [have access to] some good training and content to help them do the sell-to and sell-through on the partner side."

Brocade and Aruba said they plan on broadening their partnership to develop joint software-defined networking solutions, as well. The companies said Brocade and Aruba engineers will work together to develop network virtualization technologies that can further automate IT operations, enable zero-touch expansion and apply other SDN concepts to campus networks.