Aruba Networks' Keerti Melkote: The Edge Is The 'Exact Opposite' Of The Cloud

Enterprises need compute, storage and networking at the edge to power brand-new and 'exciting' use cases, said Aruba Networks founder President Keerti Melkote during the digital Aruba Atmosphere 2020 event.


The cloud is essentially a centralized data center while the edge of the network can be many things, including stadiums, factory floors or the workplace. The network edge and the data found at the edge, according to Keerti Melkote, founder and president of Aruba Networks, is where the most powerful opportunities lie for businesses and channel partners.

"Data isn't confined to the data rooms like it was during the mainframe era or on our computers, and the new normal is going to be even more pervasive than that. [Data] is getting into all the places we live, work and play. We call this the edge. … It's an exciting place," Melkote said during his keynote at the Aruba Atmosphere 2020 virtual event Tuesday.

Eighteen-year-old Aruba Networks wants to help businesses and partners understand and harness edge networking to drastically change customer experiences and operate better, especially in light of the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which has turned networking on its ear, Melkote said.

Sponsored post

"The cloud brings together compute, storage and networking and creates an infrastructure for applications to be built on top of. The edge is the exact opposite. It's highly distributed, so the problem becomes how do you take compute, storage and networking and bring it together to harness the power of data?" he said.

[Related: Aruba Networks' Keerti Melkote On COVID-19 ‘Accelerating’ Network Transformation Connectivity In Crisis]

To that end, organizations must connect devices, protect their endpoints, analyze the data gathered and then act on that data, Melkote said. Aruba Networks has released several products aimed at helping businesses do all of the above to power new use cases, including its Wi-Fi 6-capable access points for connection, Aruba ClearPass for protection, and the brand-new Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP) for gathering and acting on data, which was unveiled Tuesday. The platform can analyze data across domains and identify any issues or abnormalities and self-optimize, all before users notice any impact, according to Santa Clara, Calif.-based Aruba Networks.

Aruba ESP is an open platform that ties together the Aruba Networks portfolio, including the infrastructure layer with switches and access points, the policy layer with Aruba ClearPass and security, and the services layer, like on-boarding, provisioning, analytics and location-based services. Solution providers can then use Aruba Central to deliver these valuable services across data centers, campus environments and remote user locations.

Donna Grothjan, vice president of worldwide channels at Aruba Networks, told CRN that the best part about the Aruba ESP platform is there is no one starting point—partners can use the platform to address any particular need of their customers and then expand to other parts of the Aruba Networks portfolio from there.

"Whether it's campus or branch, it's all managed under the unified architecture with zero-trust security across the board, all powered by AIOps," Grothjan said.

Plexus, a solution provider based in Spain, is one Aruba Networks partner that has already built its own application on top of Aruba ESP that will help businesses get their employees back in the office or field safely.

Using Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology with Aruba Networks' location services engine and Aruba Networks access points, the application alerts employees when they are within two meters of another employee, or seven feet for U.S.-based colleagues. The application can also help with contact tracing to inform businesses whether an employee infected with COVID-19 has had any interaction with other employees. "It provides for users the full picture and probability of any risk they may have," explained Juan Manuel Sende Sanchez, director of systems for Plexus.

Melkote told CRN last month that remote access solutions, including Aruba Remote APs, are critical now and will continue to be key in a post-COVID-19 world, especially for channel partners on the lookout for the next area of opportunity while their customers recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

Melkote during his keynote specifically thanked the more than 700 volunteers from the company's Aruba Airheads community, which included partners, who volunteered their skills and time to help set up temporary health-care facilities and K-12 educational institutions with networking kits from Aruba Networks to help get users up and running immediately throughout the world at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.