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Aruba Simplifies, Speeds Up IoT Data Migration Into Microsoft Azure

Gina Narcisi

“[Partners] can move from project to project almost in a cookie cutter manner, which was not possible previously … Customers get a lower cost solution that enables their digital transformation, without worrying about the kind of roadblocks that they’d run into thus far in trying to migrate to the cloud,” Mike Tennefoss, Aruba’s VP of IoT and strategic partnerships, tells CRN around the latest joint offering with open-source software provider reelyActive and Microsoft Azure.

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Aruba Networks has teamed up with open-source software specialist reelyActive on the development of a data converter to speed up the migration of IoT workloads to Microsoft Azure.

reelyActive’s Pareto Anywhere for Azure and Aruba’s IoT Transport for Azure are being combined to help channel partners and end customers reformat data and units of measurement, such as temperature and power, to be compatible with Azure applications without requiring custom engineering, a process that can take months, the two companies said.

The offering, which allows IoT endpoint data to be securely streamed to Azure from Aruba’s wireless access points, can substantially lower the cost and time required using conventional integration methods while sidestepping the typical security vulnerabilities and challenges, Mike Tennefoss, Aruba’s vice president of IoT and strategic partnerships, told CRN.

“One of the challenges that they and I think any other cloud vendor has faced is there’s a high desire to pull data from IoT devices into the cloud, but it’s not as easy as it looks because every time a new IoT device is added, there’s a different protocol or data format that those devices are using, so there’s multiple layers of problems,” Tennefoss said. “The fundamental problem that we set out to address is how can we simplify the migration of IoT workloads from the edge to the cloud, pulling all the IoT data with them in a manner that’s secure and formatted.”

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Integrating data from legacy IoT devices into the cloud requires custom engineering that could take upwards of 3-6 months because of the many IoT protocols and non-interoperable physical layers that IT professionals and channel partners encounter along the way. It’s also often expensive to replace or retrofit legacy devices with new cloud-native software, Aruba said. Additionally, the task in the past may have required an expensive gateway or multiple gateways that also didn’t meet the security requirements of the businesses, Tennefoss said.

When the data would arrive at Azure IoT Hub, it then had to be separately formatted for use by Azure IoT applications. And if another IoT protocol needed to be added and supported, that meant additional engineering, Tennefoss said. “Once the data lands in the cloud, it’s kind of like having a group of scientists talking about a topic in different languages. And Azure applications don’t know what these devices are saying, because they’re not in universal format,” he added.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise-owned Aruba began addressing this issue by adding IoT radios to its Wi-Fi access points to act as IoT gateways. Then, the company joined force with Microsoft, its longtime technology partner, to jointly developed Aruba IoT Transport for Azure in 2021. The offering can be activated by Aruba Central cloud management to begin encoding IoT device data from Aruba Wi-Fi access points into an Azure IoT Hub compatible format, the company said.

Canada-based reelyActive was then brought in with its Pareto Anywhere for Azure open-source converter, which works by abstracting the original data pulled in from the access points so that the data seen by applications are intelligible, consistent and immediately consumable and recognizable units of measurement, according to Aruba. And together with Aruba IoT Transport for Azure, the joint solution lets Native Azure applications come in over BLE, EnOcean, and more streaming from Aruba Wi-Fi access points.

The end-to-end offering is applicable across a broad range of use cases and vertical markets for solution providers and end customers, Tennefoss said. Aruba’s entire portfolio of access points, starting with its 802.11ac products, are compatible with the new offering. “In addition to not doing custom engineering, you also don’t need any more infrastructure,” he added.

From the partner perspective, solution providers don’t have to spend time worrying about their customers adding new IoT devices that could “break” their application because they can standardize on this common infrastructure, Tennefoss said.

“They can do more projects faster, because 60 minutes is lot shorter time than three months. They can move from project to project almost in a cookie cutter manner, which was not possible previously,” he said. “And then customers get a lower cost solution that enables their digital transformation, without worrying about the kind of roadblocks that they’d run into thus far in trying to migrate to the cloud.”

And because reelyActive’s Pareto Anywhere for Azure is based on open-source software, solution providers and end customer engineers can add new device types and functionality as needed, Tennefoss said.

Pareto Anywhere for Microsoft Azure is available today from GitHub. Aruba IoT Transport for Azure is available as part of Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP), according to the company.

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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