Aruba President: Mobile First Platform Is A Partner Recurring Revenue Game Changer Vs. Cisco Meraki's 'No Differentiation' Model

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Aruba President Dominic Orr told CRN that the company's new Mobile First Platform is set to power a recurring revenue wireless platform as a service revolution in the channel versus what he called rival Cisco Meraki's locked down, "no differentiation" model.

Aruba, in fact, is moving aggressively to exploit its longtime open Application Programming Interface (APIs) and multi-vendor underpinning to get partners to build out their own branded wireless-as-a-service platform leveraging the Mobile First Platform with custom software development and third party application tie ins. 

"The difference is Meraki cannot be changed – it's a service - and the service provider is Cisco," said Orr speaking about the Mobile First Platform channel offensive. "So if you're a VAR and you adopt that approach, you are a reseller of Cisco services and you have no differentiation then the other 9,999 VARs that sell the same services. You cannot pre-configure, you cannot add anything. Now at Aruba, we believe that most VARs that want to offer recurring managed network services. They want that differentiation."

[Related: Cisco Mounting White-Label Meraki Offensive Aimed At Driving Recurring Revenues]

It is that "differentiation" that has Advantel Networks, a San Jose, Calif. based Aruba partner, ranked No. 271 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, betting big on the Aruba Mobile First platform.

Chris Atha, senior vice president of Advantel Networks, says the company is seizing on Aruba's software prowess and leveraging the Aruba APIs to drive its own healthcare based wireless platform as a service under its own brand.

"The Aruba API's are a big piece of our strategy to innovate and differentiate ourselves in the system integrator/VAR world," he said. "We are going after the healthcare vertical. There are real specific use cases where we are looking at tying Epic (healthcare software), nurse mobility and call systems and middleware in a wireless, secure IoT environment. We are working on stitching it all together into an end-to-end solution. Long term in healthcare we want to own that intellectual property. This is how an integrator or a VAR is going to transform themselves. We are going at this full force."

Advantel is already out of the software gate with strong expertise in ClearPass policy manager software proving  to be a big differentiator versus Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE), said Atha.

Avantel's Aruba business, in fact, was up double digits in 2016 with record ClearPass software installations. "The engineering services around ClearPass have surged," Atha said with three dedicated engineers doing ClearPass installs around the clock. "We have a backlog of ClearPass deals."

Aruba, for its part, says it already has 120 third party application running under ClearPass, including security applications such as Palo Alto Networks, Juniper Networks, CheckPoint, IBM Security, and Microsoft Security for wired and wireless applications. That security integration, partners says, is a major differentiator for Aruba versus Cisco which is integrating and selling its own security solutions.

There are also 30 vendors building custom mobile applications using Aruba's Meridian software development kit or Aruba Beacons including system integrator Accenture.

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