HPE Aruba today took the wraps off a machine learning-based network performance and analytics solution aimed at the next-generation workplace, and introduced a host of new corporate relationships that act as a de-facto customer base for the company's nascent corporate real estate business.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company's new NetInsight solution is intended to improve and ensure users' experience as mobility, cloud and IoT become the basis of enterprise IT strategies.
Introduced at HPE Aruba's Atmosphere conference in Las Vegas, the system continuously monitors the network and relays critical information about its performance to users. It also gives recommendations for how to tackle specific network problems and how to optimize the network for mobile, wireless and IoT devices.
Chad Williams, president of the PIERGroup, a Jasper, Ind. solution provider that works primarily with large public universities, said his customers are demanding more value from their networks and HPE Aruba's strong analytics game separates it from other vendors.
"Aruba is leading the charge when it comes to the analytical side," Williams said. "There are other players in the market, but I don't think that are nearly at the level that Aruba has been at and where they're headed. I've already been in discussions with universities about where we can bring their environment."
"The data collected is nearly limitless, and down to nearly every user," Williams said. "[My customers] are interested in how they make their students more successful. That's their concern, and knowing your network has the ability to track every movement, how do you use that capability on a positive note and ensure they have a successful college career?"
Historically, colleges and universities stabbed at that problem with a lot of guesswork by highly-paid network engineers and analysts, Williams said. "What I've seen from Aruba is taking all that engineering support and turning that into something that the network you're implementing can do all on its own and report back to the team and figure out what to do with it. The key word is end user experience that's what that team of engineers needs to focus on, not whatever the issue happens to be today. The network is going to be smart enough to immediately notice anomalies and report back to these leaders on those anomalies and those leaders will be able to make the appropriate changes to keep the user experience the best it can be."
The NetInsight solution is part of HPE Aruba's Mobile First Architecture, and is designed to work in HPE environments. Trent Fierro, HPE Aruba direct of software solutions marketing, said NetInsight hits the market as customers' inability to cope with the unrelenting pace and variety of change in their networks reaches critical levels.
"We talk to a lot of customers and they tell us their IT teams cannot keep up with all the changes that are happening in their networks," Fierro said. "People are going with more and more Wi-Fi-based IoT devices. There's going to be a 50-50 mix of Wi-Fi and wired IoT devices in an environment, like lighting systems, HVAC systems. The IT team now has to reach out and work with new stakeholders. They're a little concerned about what happens to the user experience when all these devices start connecting everywhere."
Machine learning, Fierro said, allows networks to stay ahead of problems and offer solutions before those problems become big problems.
"It gives you a virtual expert on the team that works 24-7 and is basically designed to go and look for very specific information and it's not giving you information about things it doesn't deem necessary," Fierro said. "Persistence is the key. In order to ensure that things are working properly on a day-to-day basis, it needs to keep records of how things were performing 20 days ago, 30 days ago and then give you comparison information to show you how things have changed, where they changed, and how it's affecting the environment itself in regards to connectivity for the users or IT devices, as well as the expectation that when I'm doing a conference call, that I don't have 300 devices hampering that deliverable."
That set of challenges, and the solutions HPE Aruba developed for them has broad relevance to the corporate real estate market and its drive toward smarter, greener, more efficient buildings.
With that in mind, HPE Aruba struck partnerships with several corporate real estate and technology firms – including CBRE, the largest commercial real estate firm in the world; furniture maker Herman Miller, Deloitte's real estate services arm and others, with an eye toward cornering that market.
Partners will play a key role in bridging the gap between a property's form and its function, said Alan Ni, HPE Aruba director of vertical marketing.
"Up until now form and function were in their own silos," Ni said. "Real estate did the form, and IT did the function. IT didn't even get involved until the space was fully furnished and built out. In the new environment, we want to create not just a digital workplace, not a smart building, it's really a mashup of both, a smart digital workplace. We want to make it efficient. We want to make it secure, but we also want to make it experiential. We really need to bridge the aisle and bring in two different worlds."
"They're joint stakeholders," Ni said. "They both have budget authority. If you're only telling and IT story to an IT audience, it might not get you over the hump. You have to look at it collectively."