Aruba Puts Partners On Track To Certification

The Aruba Certified Expert program is an optional certification track that aims to help solution providers develop consulting and integration services around Aruba's wireless networking technology, said Keerti Melkote, founder and vice president of product management at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor.

"Our partners tend to be networking-oriented, and they are now being asked to add wireless and security," Melkote said. "With margins so low on networking gear, they're looking for places they can provide real value-add, and with wireless and security, they can do that," he said.

The company in January also plans to roll out a lower-level Aruba Certified Associate certification that will become mandatory for its partners, Melkote said.

In addition to the certification program, Aruba introduced several new components to the Wireless Grid Architecture it launched in September. Aruba's architecture utilizes densely deployed access points that connect back to centralized switches.

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Through its new product families, Aruba is extending to the wired network the security features it has built into its WLAN infrastructure, Melkote said.

The new products include the Aruba 2E grid point for wired network ports and the Aruba 6000 and 6100 grid controllers, a family of WLAN switches.

The 6000-series grid controllers act as WLAN switches but also connect to a bevy of security solutions from third-party vendors, including antivirus, firewall and intrusion-prevention systems, feeding wireless traffic from end points through the grid controller and then to the security systems.

The end result is that customers can centralize their security appliances in the data center rather than distributing them throughout the enterprise, Melkote said.

Now, with Aruba's 2E grid point, wired LAN traffic can also be filtered through Aruba's grid controllers and on to centralized security systems, he said.

"It's not enough to protect just ports that connect to the Internet. Every port has to be secured," Melkote said.

In particular, the two-port device is aimed at publicly accessible network jacks, such as those in conference rooms, lobbies or other common areas, although they could also be used throughout the office, he said.

Aruba's new security strategy allows customers to port the more stringent security features of their wireless networks over to wired users, said James Winebrenner, director of consulting services at Network Presence, a security-focused solution provider in Los Angeles.

"They want to be able to do it in a way that's seamless so no matter how you connect, whether it's wired or wireless, you go through the same process," he said.

Aruba's grid controllers can sit on top of an existing network infrastructure and do not require customers to make forklift upgrades, Winebrenner said.

The new solutions also open opportunities for partners to build consultative security services that help customers craft their business and security policies, Melkote said.

The Aruba 6000 includes a two-port Gigabit Ethernet line card and a supervisor module capable of processing up to 3.6 Gbps of encrypted traffic. The 6100 supports up to 7.2 Gbps of encrypted throughput and includes two line cards and two supervisor modules.

Up to 32 controllers can be stacked and managed as one, Melkote said.

Aruba also unveiled partnerships with end-point security vendor Sygate Technologies and network security vendor Fortinet, although Aruba's grid controllers utilize an open interface that will operate with security devices from other vendors as well, he said.

The vendor has not yet disclosed pricing for its new products, all of which are slated to ship in January. Melkote said the company hopes to hit a target price of around $150 for the Aruba 2E grid controller.