Aruba modernizes workplace security in cloud, IOT world

Keerti Melkote, founder, SVP and general manager of Aruba NetworksThe year 2016 was a year of innovation for Aruba Networks, said Aruba Founder, Senior Vice President and General Manager Keerti Melkote at the Aruba Atmosphere 2017 conference held last week in Macau.

Held for the 15th year since its first Airheads held in 2002, the Aruba Atmosphere 2017 was attended by some 1,900 IT executives and practitioners, with 25% of them being first-time attendees.

Following its acquisition by HPE (formerly HP) in 2015, Aruba reported a two percent increase in its market share of wireless networking segment in the Asia Pacific last year.

Aruba's business is largely partner-driven, with 96% of its business brought in by partners. Its partner community (aka the Airheads community) grew by 53% on a year on year basis. The company posed strongest growth in the education, hospitality, healthcare and retail sectors.

"The year 2016 was a year of innovation for Aruba," said Melkote during the opening keynote. Last year, Aruba completed its 802.11ac portfolio [wireless access points for Wi-Fi service delivery]. It provides zero-touch provisioning of Aruba's switches, which brings the wireless and wire networks together. Also, the company launched Aruba Central for managed network service, and launched a virtual cloud environment operating system called ArubaOS 8 that delivers an always-on network with built-in intelligence and automation.

Integrated network security fabric

At the conference, Melkote announced the launch of Aruba 360 Secure Fabric. It is a security framework that provides a 360 degree view of analytics-driven attack detection and response to help organizations reduce cybersecurity risks, from pre-authorization to post-authorization across multi-vendor infrastructures.

The Aruba 360 Secure Fabric has three components: 1) Aruba IntroSpect UBEA solution; 2) Aruba ClearPass; and 3) Aruba Secure Core.

The Aruba IntroSpect UBEA solution is a network-agnostic family of continuous monitoring and advanced attack detection software, which uses machine learning to generate a risk score based on the severity of an attack to speed up incident investigations for security teams.

Aruba ClearPass is a network access control and policy management security solution that can profile BYOD and internet of things (IoT) users and devices, enabling automated attack response. It can be deployed on any vendor's network and is integrated with Aruba IntroSpect.

Finally, Aruba Secure Core embeds security capabilities in the foundation across all of Aruba's Wi-Fi access points, wireless controllers and switches, including the latest Aruba 8400 core and aggregation switch.

Unifying security registration and Wi-Fi check-in

Two years ago, Aruba Networks decided to relocate its campus to Santa Clara, after experiencing 13 years of organic growth in Sunnyvale in the US.

"This gave us the opportunity to create a new campus environment, to truly bring to live everything we talk about inside our own campus, and to make this campus a living lab," said Melkote.

In January 2017, Aruba moved into its new Santa Clara facility, which was modelled as a future workplace. "Our new campus is a mobile-first workplace that embraces mobility which always shifts in form. It embraces the internet of things (IoT), is secure, and enables new user experiences for our employees."

When the Aruba future workplace was first conceptualized, Melkote asked himself these questions: "How can we create a workplace that is truly exciting? What are the experiences that our employees will be looking for? Will they really enjoy being inside the workplace?"

Aruba then decided to first streamline its visitors' experience.

Today, when visitors arrive at a front desk and ask to visit someone in an office building, they are often required to register themselves in a book, together with their name and their identification number as part of the security checking process -- which is independent of Wi-Fi checking.

"A lot of you want Wi-Fi access as well as you walk into a building. But the [authentication] process is entirely independent from the visitor registration process," Melkote said.

Now, the security registration process at the Aruba campus is unified with its Wi-Fi check-in process, such that visitors of the Aruba campus need not sign in on any physical register.

"Our visitors can simply enter their credentials on a little tablet, which will automatically register them."

"After that, the visitors will receive a text notification which invites them to log onto the Wi-Fi network. This is a truly streamlined registration process," he said.

Meanwhile, the Aruba staff that a visitor requests to visit is notified of his/her visitors' arrival. "This was simple, but it truly enhances the experience of our guests and visitors."

Smart conferencing guide

The next aspect of Aruba's future workplace is collaboration.

According to Melkote, collaboration is now at the heart of most enterprises as they realize collaboration increases productivity, which in turn increases the profitability of the enterprise.

To create an interactive conference room experience, for example, Aruba has adopted collaboration tools like Skype for Business.

And to book a conference room in the Aruba campus, for example, one can perform the reservation using a mobile app. "He or she can simply pull up the app and say 'I'm here.'" "And based on one's location, the app will suggest the nearest conference room that one can use to have his or her meeting. This becomes a truly location-aware experience fusing location and collaboration," Melkote added.