Aruba Networks Dives Deep Into IoT With New ClearPass Profiler And IoT-Ready Switches

Aruba Networks, which Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired last year for $3 billion, is ramping up its Internet of Things (IoT) activity by announcing several new products to solidify its stake in a market that research firm IDC expects to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020.

"I see this as being huge for Aruba to make IoT and doing [network] profiling much more affordable so you know what's on your network," said Charles Koehler, the lead Aruba enterprise architect for Denver-based solution provider Optiv. "This is different from anything that Cisco Meraki has or someone like ForeScout … I'm really excited to see the synergy between Aruba and HPE really hitting their stride."

During the HPE Discover Conference on Wednesday, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aruba revealed its new 2540 IoT-Ready Access Switches, enhancements to the ArubaOS-Switch, and the ClearPass Universal Profiler – a network access control solution that channel partners can offer as a service, according to Chris Kozup, vice president of marketing for Aruba.

[Related: Cisco's Top 5 Most Highly Paid Executives in FY16]

Sponsored post

The new enterprise-focused ClearPass Universal Profiler – based on ClearPass – automatically identifies and "fingerprints" IoT devices on multi-vendor wired and wireless networks. The solution also secures the network and protects businesses from threats that emerge from unknown endpoints and IoT devices connecting to the network, according to Kozup.

"Profiler will detect and classify these devices. It uses a host of techniques that I think of as fingerprinting capabilities," said Kozup. "It basically sends an alert to the administrator, allows the administrator to go and find it, and classify it, and the next time the same device pops up somewhere else, it knows it because it's built in the library ... It's a tool channel partners can use to help customers understand what's in front of them as it relates to enterprise-based IoT."

The Profiler displays information about the device type, operating system, status and location in a graphical user interface. The information can be used to enhance performance and security across a customer's infrastructure, allowing a channel partner to provide user behavior analytics, deception intelligence and firewall security, according to Aruba's press release.

"I see this being huge because now you no longer have to buy the full suite of ClearPass," said Koehler. "This really helps in small environments that want to know what's on their network, but don't want to take that full leap."

He said Aruba's goal is to eventually "be able to enforce [network and corporate policies] using this Profiler solution, which will be huge because you'll be able to change VLANs and control what's going on with most of the devices – and that's really where I see IoT going."

The ClearPass Universal Profiler will become available in the first quarter of calendar year 2017, with pricing beginning at $150.

The networking vendor also introduced its new 2540 Series of IoT-focused switches, which are optimized for small- to medium-density IoT enterprise edge deployments. The Layer 3 switches have the ability to prioritize business-critical applications and control what network resources the devices can access.

Kozup said the switches are capable of user-based and port-based wired traffic tunneling to the Aruba Mobility Controller so that policies can be applied, advanced services can be extended, and traffic can be encrypted to secure the LAN, which reduces risks to the network.

"[ClearPass] Profiler does the discovery, classifies these things into different categories, [and] policies are assigned based on what types of things they are. And then the [2540 Series] switching infrastructure has the ability to then enforce policies around security, tunnels, as well as some options on PoE [Power over Ethernet] for things like cameras or sensors or anything that is network connected that doesn't require a lot of power," said Kozup.

The 2540 Series switches are now available, starting with a price tag of $2,589.

Aruba on Wednesday also revealed enhancements to its ArubaOS-Switch operating system. The company said the enhancements go along with the new 2540 switches to help enable unified role-based access across wireless and wired networks with the ability to identify and assign roles to connected IoT devices.

"This is all a great play," said Optiv's Koehler. "It gives HPE a broader spectrum in the whole [IoT] area. As they're integrating more of the Aruba switch code into the original HP switches, I'm seeing a more interesting story especially when you tie in ClearPass on top of it -- even with just the [ClearPass Universal] Profiler, the amount of data that you're able to see about the device without even authenticating the use is amazing."

Meanwhile, HPE on Wednesday is launching a new HPE Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE), which provides businesses with greater control over IoT devices that need cellular connectivity and services.

Additionally, the company released its HPE Universal IoT Platform, designed for massive scale, multi-vendor and multi-network support. The platform manages the MVNE devices and provides multi-vendor IoT monitoring, reporting and analytics services.

According to research firm Gartner, 6.4 billion "things" will be connected worldwide this year, an increase of 30 percent over 2015. The research company projects there will be over 20 billion connected IoT devices by 2020.

Koehler said he's excited to see what's going to happen next year as the synergy between HPE and Aruba hits its stride.

"There's a lot of IoT play that's going to be coming in," said Koehler. "I really like what Aruba is doing around ClearPass and opening up their APIs … I'm really excited to see what's going to happen."