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Aruba Central Gets AI Infusion To Tie Together Network, Security Insights

Gina Narcisi

The HPE-owned networking specialist’s flagship Aruba Central platform has been bolstered with four new AI features that tap into the vendor’s massive data lake to give more actionable networking and security information to partners and IT administrators.

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Aruba Networks’ flagship Aruba Central network management platform will now include a handful of new AI features aimed at bringing together network and security information in one place for partners and IT administrators.

The HPE-owned networking specialist on Tuesday revealed four new AI features injected into Aruba Central, including Client Insights, Firmware Recommender, AI search in Spanish, and Automated Infrastructure Predictions.

The idea is to give IT administrators visibility and control from one tool, Aruba executives told CRN.

[Related: Aruba Channel Leaders: The Market Is Ready For NaaS ]

Businesses need all the AI and automation they can get and lack of insight into issues and disparate IT environments is challenge, especially as many companies grapple with remote users and a lack of qualified IT candidates, said Trent Fierro, senior marketing manager, cloud and AIOps solutions marketing for Aruba.

More than 120,000 different customers are sending information into Aruba’s data lake, which consists of data from switches, access points, gateways, and over 200 million different types of devices, such as laptops, cameras, or sensors. It also consists of data specific to more than 30 different verticals. Fierro said that Aruba believes it has the largest consolidated data lake, giving the company a unique advantage to provide networking, security, and applications insights to an extend that no other networking vendor can.

“Because of all the data that we’ve collected and the fact that it’s so broad across verticals, we believe that it provides us with unlimited opportunities to deliver trusted automation,” Fierro said. “[And] we can basically tune our models and look at emerging use cases, not just use cases that people are familiar with today.”

“What’s really interesting is Aruba is bringing it all together,” said Ben Sterley, director of data services for Aruba partner Laketec Communications, Inc.

The “major” value that Aruba offers with its Edge Services Platform (ESP) and Aruba Central, ESP’s delivery platform, is the combination of switching, wireless, SD-WAN and user experience monitoring into a single platform, Sterley said. “That’s valuable because now when they start running all these algorithms, they have a whole lot more information to work with and a whole lot more visibility. In order to glean insights, you need information.”

AI Injection

Client Insights, a feature within Aruba ClearPass for access management, has been added to Aruba Central. The feature can identify and profile endpoints connecting to the network with up to 99 percent accuracy, even those without IT approval. The feature can help IT limit unknown devices, Aruba said.

“This lets us extend our story from network insights, to allowing us to start talking about zero-trust security built directly into AIOps,” Aruba’s Fierro said.

The new AI-powered Firmware Recommender feature gives IT the answer of which firmware version to run for the wireless access points in their environments. The feature can reduce support calls and guesswork and help implement new features and fixes more quickly.

AI Search, which has been part of Aruba Central for a couple of years, is now available in native Spanish language, Aruba’s second largest geographical user community. “This helps partners and our customers more quickly identify issues, and it helps in that training process as well, because I don’t have to translate from English to Spanish. It’s all done for me, automatically,” Fierro said.

Automated Infrastructure Predictions uses Aruba’s AI Assist feature and Aruba Support outreach to recognize possible hardware and software infrastructure issues for preemptive engagement that can consist of firmware upgrades or recommended hardware replacement. It sends logs to Aruba techs, who can also use the information to identify patterns and make recommendations to solve the issues.

North Olmsted, Ohio-based Laketec works with both large enterprises, higher education, and state and local government clients, as well as some very small customers. The MSP needs these new features to better serve all its customers. It’s also beneficial for Laketec’s client base to gain access to these new features through their existing license and without making additional investments, Sterley said.

Client Insights being baked into Aruba Central is a “fantastic” add, he said. “I really think it’s powerful, what they’ve done in kind of crowdsourcing some of the information as well and then sharing it amongst the organizations.”

Firmware Recommender and Infrastructure Predictions are reminiscent of HPE’s InfoSight tool for storage, Sterley said. “We’ve actually seen the value of these features through those applications in the past,” he said.

From a partner standpoint, the new features will better equip their clients for long-term hybrid work and new IoT use cases, like pop-up retail, Said Larry Lunetta, Aruba’s vice president of WLAN and security solutions marketing.

“[There are] big management and security challenges with IoT -- these things get on the network outside the purview of the security team in the IT team. So, by automatically finding them and identifying them, that’s the on-ramp for the zero trust and SASE frameworks where you can assign access privileges, and that traffic only goes where you want it to go,” he said. “That’s why AI applied to security are so important and this is really unique. It’s a visibility opportunity, but importantly, a security control as well.”

Aruba Client Insights is available now. AI Search in Spanish, Firmware Recommender, and Infrastructure Predictions are available for early access and will be generally available in October 2022. Each of the latest features are included in Aruba Central Foundation licensing, the company said.  

Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for CRN.com. Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at gnarcisi@thechannelcompany.com.

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