HPE Aruba Networks EMEA Atmosphere 2017: what’s new?

This year, the Aruba Atmosphere congress was hosted at Disneyland Paris. More than 1600 networking experts gathered to hear about Aruba Networks’ vision on ‘smart spaces’ and the technical innovations regarding intelligent access.  In this blogpost, I will summarize the most important takeaways from this event.

Mobility to the next level

HPE Aruba Networks remains committed to their ‘Mobility First’ vision. With Aruba OS 8.1, the company is ready to lift the Mobility First framework to the next level. During the keynote sessions, the main innovations were highlighted:

  • Controller clustering enables a seamless experience within and across campuses.
  • Hitless end-station connection failover is enabled by redundant tunnels from an end-station to a redundant set of controllers. Each end-station will have two independent tunnels that lead towards a redundant set of controllers within the controller cluster. In case a controller fails, the backup tunnel will automatically take over the dataflow in a way that even voice and video streams will continue without a single hiccup. This was proven in a real live demo on stage with a VR live stream.
  • Live upgrade possibilities allow you to upgrade mobility controllers and access points to the latest operating system in real-time with zero downtime and with no users affected. Additionally, the possibility exists to individually update a number of service modules without requiring an entire system reboot.
  • AirMatch is the new automated channel optimization, transmit power adjustment and channel width tuning system that utilizes dynamic machine learning intelligence to automatically generate the optimal view of the entire WLAN network.

The Mobility Cloud

Aruba Networks (HPE) also continues to expand its Aruba Central Cloud service functionalities. In the near future, controller-based WLAN solutions will also be manageable through the Aruba Central cloud. New presence analytics features will also be introduced. Aruba Networks has the intention to move more and more (software) features and management tasks of the Mobility First framework to their ‘Mobility’ cloud.

What about AI and Machine Learning?

Aruba Networks is convinced that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will play a significant role in creating visibility in the network and in securing it. New functionalities based on Artificial Intelligence will be integrated into the Mobility First Cloud framework.

For this reason, Aruba Networks acquired two companies, RASA and NIARA. The RASA technology provides a network health assessment, benchmarking and recommendations through machine learning. NIARA delivers machine-learned user and entity behavior analytics for enterprise security. During the keynote sessions, demos were given of both solutions. I was impressed by how fast a collaboration of both systems with the Mobility First framework was realized through the use of the Aruba Networks’ open API’s.

How to keep track of all devices on the network?

Another evolution is the Internet of Things (IOT). It’s expected that by 2019, 85% of all organizations will use some type of IOT solution. One of the challenges that goes with it is: how do we keep track of all devices on the network and how do we keep everything secure?

Companies can keep their network and data safe by transforming their network into a large sensor. This can be achieved by using user behavior analytics to track the activities of users and machines, combined with controlling who and what accesses the network. The collaboration between NIARA and Clearpass will definitely help you realize this, as NIARA provides behavior analytics and Clearpass is a central point for authenticating wired and wireless devices and users.

Aruba Onconnect Enforcement

Clearpass has a wealth of information in its database on all that lives on your network. The Clearpass device profile functionalities have been extended with Aruba Onconnect Enforcement.

Aruba Onconnect Enforcement enables ClearPass to detect and apply enforcement to endpoints connected to wired switches without the need to enable AAA methods such as 802.1x or MAC Authentication. Using standards-based SNMP, WMI, LLDP, CDP and other protocols, wired switches can notify ClearPass when a new device has connected onto the network and Clearpass can then enforce a security policy for those devices. This also allows enforcement in non-AAA environments without the need for an agent, such as OnGuard, on the endpoint.

To solve the whole problem of unsecured legacy devices, Clearpass detects and authenticates these devices (even non 802.1x capable) and is able to tunnel them (wireless or wired) up to the Local Mobility controller which enforces a layer 7 policy on the IoT data flow.

And, last but not least, an indoor wayfinding platform and new BLE asses tracking tags will be introduced in the Meridian Mobile Engagement. This will enable organizations to leverage the build-in BLE radios in the Aruba access points for asset tracking and asset management.

Conclusion

So, in summary, it were 3 interesting days @Aruba Atmosphere 2017. That combined with some great fun at Disneyland Paris creates high expectations for next year.

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