5 Big IoT Innovations: Aruba’s Wi-Fi Access Points, AI Software And Switches

All-In On IoT

Aruba Tuesday stepped up its Internet of Things sales charge with its first Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard based access points, switches and artificial intelligence software.

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard—the sixth generation of wireless technology—is powering a whopping four times improvement in Wi-Fi performance with the new Aruba access points, switches and NetInsight software. That's because the new Wi-Fi standard supports simultaneous traffic from multiple access points.

The faster speeds from the new Aruba 510 Series access points—along with major advances in power management and AI capabilities—are set to power a new generation of IoT solutions, said partners.

Among the biggest breakthroughs are new power management features from Aruba's NetInsight AI-powered analytics software that powers down access points, saving customers millions of dollars in energy costs.

The primary sales targets out of the gate for the new Wi-Fi 6 products are high-density and crowded environments like stadiums, universities and airports, said Lissa Hollinger, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

"This this next wave of Wi-Fi technology has been purpose-designed to address some of the acute pain points that customers are seeing in those high-density and crowded environments," said Hollinger. "Those types of businesses are going to be the first to embrace this next wave of technology."

Another big market opportunity is the millions of customers that are still on the fourth and fifth generation of Wi-Fi technology, said Hollinger.

The new Aruba 510 Series access points are available immediately starting at $1,095.

Four Times Improvement In Performance

The biggest game-changer from the new Wi-Fi 6 products is the four times increase in performance for Wi-Fi networks.

That's fueling a huge sales opportunity for partners targeting high-density stadium, convention center and university environments. "It's a sizable market opportunity for partners," said Hollinger.

With Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Aruba is improving the end-to-end Wi-Fi network performance, said Newsha Sharifzadeh, global product marketing manager at Aruba. "Before 802.11ax, it was just about single client [performance improvements]," said Sharifzadeh. "Now we are improving the entire network performance."

Partners expect that big performance boost to spark a new wave of IoT applications.

With the release of the Aruba 510 Series, Aruba said it is the first security vendor certified on the WPA3 enhanced encryption security standard. That is designed to "significantly improve Wi-Fi encryption" in open network environments such as coffee shops and restaurants.

Hollinger said that WPA3 functionality is going to be a major selling point for channel partners supporting open small-business networks. Aruba was one of the driving forces in pushing the WPA3 standard.

A Wi-Fi Network Built For The Internet Of Things

The new Aruba 510 Series access points have been optimized for IoT environments with Zigbee radio support and BlueTooth (BLE) 5 integration.

That Zigbee and BLE 5 support guarantees support for 74 percent of the IoT device installed base, said Hollinger.

The big opportunity for partners is targeting IoT-intensive application environments, said Hollinger.

Many hotel customers, for example, are managing two separate networks—one for guest access cards and another for Wi-Fi access, said Hollinger.

"By integrating Zigbee into the access point, a hotel can collapse all that functionality onto one network, significantly reducing their Capex cost and operational complexity," said Hollinger.

New Aruba 2930M Switch Series

Aruba's new 2930M access switches are aimed at powering a new era of Wi-Fi 6 based IoT applications.

In fact, the new 2930M switches support higher power functionality—up to 60 watts per port—which is essential in the most demanding IoT environments.

That power standard is going to be "increasingly important" for IoT device support, said Hollinger. "It's a standard based 60-watt switch," she said. "That's important because most of the client devices that are going to be connected to the switch are going to embrace the standard rather than opt for a proprietary implementation."

The 2930M supports 1,440-watt power functionality for IoT environments including cameras.

That higher-power functionality is aimed specifically at the most demanding IoT environments including stadiums, universities and airports.

The 2930M also includes Smart Rate modular uplinks to support faster future speeds along with AirWave and ClearPass policy integration.

The Aruba 2930M, which supports software-defined REST APIs, begins shipping in October with a list price starting at $10,799.

AI-Based Aruba NetInsight Autonomous Wi-Fi Network Tuning

Key to Aruba's new W-iFi 6 products is the company's artificial intelligence NetInsight network analytics software prowess.

The latest version of NetInsight provides AI-based autonomous tuning that optimizes the "overall performance and efficiency" of the Wi-Fi 6 environment, said Hollinger.

In fact, the "closed loop" network automation functionality—which is new for the Wi-Fi 6 launch—learns, adapts and self-tunes with peer benchmarking and predictive analytics, said Hollinger.

"We are providing IT with actionable insights based on our significant installed base of peer benchmarks based on industry, company size, IT environments and then automating those actions," said Hollinger. "It's not just about four times the performance of the APs [access points], but looking at the overall network with our software, understanding the network and client behavior, making sure we are optimizing and re-steering traffic to other APs if one AP is overloaded .”

The NetInsight software provides a major competitive advantage for Aruba partners, said Hollinger. "Not all AI is created equal," she said. "Just because someone says they do AI does not mean that they truly have robust models and algorithms to feed the actionable insights. That is really critical in mission-critical environments like hospitals."

NetInsight supporting Wi-Fi 6, the Aruba 510 Series access points and the 2930M switches is priced at $50 per year, per access point. It begins shipping in the first quarter next year.

NetInsight Smart Energy Management

The new version of NetInsight includes Green AP that is designed to automatically power down access points that are not being utilized.

That Green AP functionality saves customers a whopping 72 percent power savings per access point, said Hollinger. That will translate into at least a 50 percent energy savings by adopting NetInsight, said Hollinger.

"It's significant," said Hollinger of the cost savings. "It varies depending on customers and the number of APs they have installed."

Aruba's Intelligent Power Monitoring capabilities, which are featured in AOS 8, meanwhile, measure the power utilization of access points and prioritizes alternative access points when an access point is operating over budget.

"Intelligent power monitoring dynamically and autonomously turns off features to ensure access points operate within their power budget," said Hollinger.

That intelligent power monitoring is going to be critical in demanding IoT environments that have not yet adopted the 2930M switches, said Hollinger. "It's going to be a big deal for customers that want to preserve their existing switching infrastructure," she said.