HPE Aruba Launches 'SD Branch,' Saying SD-WAN Competitors Can't Match Integration, Simplicity


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HPE Aruba is introducing SD-WAN as part of a wider branch services offering that offers context and capabilities that competitors can't match, the company said.

Called SD Branch, the solution combines new branch gateways and headend gateways with existing HPE Aruba technology, including ClearPass policy management software, to form an integrated SD-WAN, WLAN, LAN and security solution that offers context, affordability and flexibility that make the system a powerful opportunity for partners.

"I don't think any of our competitors right now have an integrated solution that lets you use a very common look and feel dashboard that lets you manage wired, and wireless," said Trent Fierro, HPE Aruba director of software solutions marketing. "Our offering provides a performance boost compared to anything else in the industry, and we're not charging on bandwidth. You buy the gateway, and the subscription is to manage it. There are no rules on how much bandwidth you use or the type of traffic. There are no complicated rules."

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Context is the key market advantage for the SD Branch solution, said Mani Ganesan, HPE Aruba director of product management.

Existing SD-WAN solutions all do basically the same thing, Ganesan said. "What none of them have is the context coming from the LAN side. Aruba has a strong heritage on the LAN side," he said. As a result SD Branch can determine "who is the user, what kind of device, is it point-of-sale? Is it a guest mobile device streaming Netflix? With that, we can do much more powerful things."

ClearPass gives customers a centralized, "single-pane-of-glass" system for managing policies across branch locations, allowing them to create detailed rules to define what types of devices are allowed on the network. Customers can create rules that allow for bring-you-own-device policies, but stipulate that traffic from those devices only goes to the internet rather than the corporate network, for example.

HPE Aruba's new branch gateways are the cornerstone of the SD Branch portfolio. They are purpose-built using software developed in-house with integration in mind from the beginning, Fierro said. The close integration allows HPE Aruba to simplify rules enforcement within the branch and provide clear focus on data that either stays in the branch, is sent to a data center, or to the cloud.

The new gateways will list for $1,495. A ClearPass subscription costs about $450 per year.

The gateways take advantage of rule-based access and segmentation, but they don't do threat prevention. For that, HPE Aruba is enhancing its partnerships with CheckPoint and PaloAlto, while establishing a new partnership with ZScaler. Each of the partnerships allow users to send traffic into the internet to be inspected. "It's easy to do. It's uncomplicated," said Fierro. "You don't have to put firewalls in all the branches. There's no equipment to put in the branch."

The portfolio also includes enhancements to the Aruba Central cloud platform to allow it to handle SD-WAN gateways and traffic into the branch.

The deep integration of HPE Aruba's SD-WAN solution means partners have a couple of strong opportunities for selling the solution. The first is targeting customers who are refreshing technology, especially legacy router technology, Fierro said. "They may have another vendor's router," he said. "Maybe it's long-in-the-tooth. Maybe they need something that does more. They can go to a gateway now and replace the router."

The second, Fierro said, revolves around HPE Aruba's install base. "You can go back as a partner and say you already have the wired and wireless equipment, now you want to take advantage of SD-WAN." In that case, the process is as simple as putting a gateway in each branch, and getting onboard with Aruba Central, Fierro said.

Tony Balistrieri, vice president of corporate field sales for Zones Inc., an Auburn, Wash., solution provider that works with HPE Aruba, said the vendor has been smart about its SD-WAN strategy and gains a particular advantage with the way it's handled security.

"The partnerships they've built with PaloAlto, Checkpoint and ZScaler are huge," Balistrieri said. "That install base is big, and as you're growing anything around wireless, the fact you can partner with those guys, you've got multiple people out there selling for you now."

"They're being smart about their business and their partnerships," Balistrieri said. "The TCO side of it depends on what the customers really start saving by deploying SD-WAN in this type of environment. They're getting rid of MPLS. A lot of things they currently pay for they can manage at a much lower level. They can manage all these devices form a single pane of glass, and that means you can deploy quickly."

Joel Grace, vice president of engineering at Sayers Techologies, a Vernon Hills, Ill., solution provider that works with HPE Aruba, said the attractiveness of HPE Aruba's integrated SD-WAN approach is significant to both partner and customers.

"The big win is that you've got a single vendor with integrated technology," Grace said. "That drastically reduces complexity, which is important to enterprises, but even more important on the branch office side because you don't want to drag all that complexity out to the edge. It's in Aruba's DNA to keep it simple. The hard part is already deployed for you and managed for you. You can just drop [SD-WAN] in and you're off to the races."

Grace is also impressed with HPE Aruba's approach to integrating security, and said it will likely be a differentiator for the vendor. "You have the ability to understand types of devices and traffic," Grace said. "You never know who's going to come into the office and plug in a laptop, or a camera, and that can impact performance and experience. Now you're able to categorize traffic and prioritize over WAN links. That's a key part of delivering SD-WAN. Other vendors our there don't have that visibility, and it's a detriment to their solution."

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