Aruba Boosts Partners' Managed Services Play With Cloud Wi-Fi Platform

Aruba Networks has expanded its wireless lineup to include new access points and a cloud-based management platform that lets solution providers manage customers' wireless infrastructures as a service.

The new Aruba Central platform unveiled Tuesday is a public cloud, subscription-based management service that gives organizations, and Aruba partners, a single point of management for multiple wireless sites or multiple Aruba Instant WLANs within sites.

The platform, which is priced at $140 per access point, per year, is targeted largely at organizations with multiple remote locations, looking to manage the access points within those locations through a single pane of glass.

[Related: Brocade, Aruba Look To Eliminate 'Cisco Lock-In' With New Joint Architecture ]

Sponsored post

Aruba Central also arms Aruba partners with a Wi-Fi-as-a-Service offering, allowing them to deploy, monitor and troubleshoot their customers' wireless environments from anywhere at any time, according to Sylvia Hooks, director of product marketing at Aruba.

"For a partner doing a deployment service, they can log in from any location, define configurations for a customer, and when a customer -- or a partner -- plugs in an access point and powers it on, [Aruba Central] automatically pulls down those configurations from the cloud," Hooks told CRN. "So it makes it really simple [for partners] to do roll outs across the nation or across the globe, and to do it without a lot of IT intervention on site."

Terrence Boylan, CEO of PacketLogix, a Barrington, Rhode Island-based solution provider, said the new Aruba Central platform will make it much easier for him to remotely manage large enterprise customers, who almost always have multiple branch locations.

"The reason why Aruba Central is so revolutionary for partners is that our customers rely on us to manage, in some cases, their wireless network for them, but in the very least to manage the deployment and procurement of these networks," Boylan told CRN. "And, really, any enterprise customer inevitably has a dispersed location base. [Aruba] Central allows us to manage that deployment and then manage the administration, security and profile of those deployments, while they are being rolled out."

Boylan, whose company specializes in wireless and managed services, said his Aruba business is expected to at least double this year.

NEXT: New Aruba Access Points

Aruba's Hooks said her company plans to add new partner-specific features to Aruba Central over the coming months, including a "master dashboard" that lets solution providers see all their customer accounts in a single view, along with a tool that lets partners "reskin" the platform to include their own logo or brand.

"We have lots and lots partner interest," Hooks said.

The new Aruba Central platform is meant to be used alongside Aruba's Instant line of wireless access points. Hooks said Aruba's flagship network management platform AirWave will continue to be supported and can also be used to manage Instant access points. But Aruba Central, she said, gives customers and partners a cloud-based alternative to that product.

"We could have put AirWave in a virtual machine in the cloud. But, we're not," Hooks said. "This is starting from scratch with a cloud-based application."

Aruba Central will go head-to-head with similar offerings from Aruba rivals including Aerohive, Adtran and Cisco. Cisco in August launched a managed services dashboard for its Meraki cloud-based Wi-Fi solution, letting partners deploy and manage end users' wireless infrastructures through a services-based model.

Aruba Tuesday also grew its family of Instant access points with the new Instant 155, a three-antenna desktop access point that can reach speeds up to 450 Mbps, and the new Instant 220 Series, which supports the latest 802.11ac wireless standard.

PUBLISHED Oct. 1, 2013