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Aruba NetInsight, User Experience Insight coming to Central

Aruba plans to add analytics to its Central management console for the WLAN. Customers will be able to access Aruba NetInsight and User Experience Insight in Central.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has integrated two of its network analytics tools with the cloud-based Central console used to manage an Aruba-powered wireless LAN. Aruba has also introduced a virtual appliance for connecting branch offices to Microsoft Azure.

Aruba announced this week at the HPE Discover conference that customers would be able to access Aruba NetInsight and User Experience Insight from within Central 2.5, which the company plans to ship next month. Customers will access the tools through separate tabs in Central.

While the additions are not "earth-shattering," bringing analytics into the Central console is helpful to network engineers, said Will Townsend, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, based in Austin, Texas.  "It's a simplicity and ease-of-use message from Aruba."

Aruba NetInsight is a cloud-based network performance monitoring and analytics tool that compares the performance of similar Wi-Fi environments and then recommends configurations that could improve a customer's network. The analytics engine uses anonymized data collected from hundreds of thousands of customer access points.

User Experience Insight is also a cloud-based analytics service. The product lets IT staff centrally configure and run a variety of tests, including the availability of SaaS and internal applications and LAN and wireless LAN connectivity. The testing is done through an on-premises appliance that continuously runs simulated tests over Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections.

Along with the new features in Central, Aruba improved the capabilities of its cloud-managed software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which is a part of the vendor's multifunction gateway appliance for the branch.

The appliance simplifies branch networking by delivering routing, firewalls and other services. Central is used to manage the software-defined branch appliance, while Aruba's ClearPass policy manager software provides network access control.

Aruba Central
The Aruba Central dashboard with Insight metrics

Virtual gateway for Microsoft Azure

The SD-WAN enhancement involves a new virtual gateway for Microsoft Azure that customers can use to connect to Aruba's branch gateway appliance. With the Azure gateway, customers can extend their SD-WAN overlay services to Microsoft's public cloud infrastructure, using Aruba's SD-WAN orchestrator within Central. Aruba also offers a virtual gateway on AWS.

Cisco is Aruba's main competitor in the branch office market, where SD-WAN sales are growing as companies use the technology to connect to SaaS applications and software running in a public cloud. Businesses also use SD-WAN to swap expensive MPLS connections with lower-cost broadband wherever possible.

Aruba's SD-WAN competes with Cisco's Viptela and Meraki SD-WANs. While all the products have decent technology, Aruba has done a better job than Cisco at highlighting the benefits of its SD-WAN technology for remote offices.

"Aruba has done a great job of branding themselves as the branch solution," Townsend said.

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