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Aruba unveils EdgeConnect Microbranch for home office

IT staff can use the Aruba Central management console to onboard EdgeConnect Microbranch devices, which deliver wireless connectivity, security and traffic management.

Aruba has introduced EdgeConnect Microbranch, a single device that provides wireless connectivity and security to home offices, retail popups and other remote locations.

Using the cloud-based Aruba Central management console, IT staff can onboard Microbranch devices and configure them with software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) services, such as traffic management and security. The latter could include a firewall, secure web gateway and zero-trust network access, all delivered through a Secure Access Service Edge architecture.

Aruba has designed Microbranch to deliver corporate-level network security and latency to remote locations, said Larry Lunetta, Aruba's vice president of solutions portfolio marketing. Aruba Central is key to simplifying management by identifying performance issues and analyzing the root-cause.

To ease security hassles for some customers, Aruba has pre-integrated Microbranch with Zscaler, a provider of cloud-based security services. The integration lets Zscaler subscribers send traffic directly to the service.

Aruba expects EdgeConnect Microbranch sales to be the strongest among companies with many home office workers. Other use cases include popup shops, retail kiosks, construction sites and doctors conducting telehealth sessions.

IDC analyst Brandon Butler singled out call centers, where latency and securing customer data are critical. Call center operators can configure EdgeConnect Microbranch to prioritize voice and video using the device's policy-based routing.

While some of the capabilities of the EdgeConnect Microbranch were available before, having a simplified way to manage traffic will appeal to organizations that also want security and reliable connectivity in a single device, Butler said.

"You can really manage the traffic policies of that remote worker," he said.

Aruba is not the first to release a home office solution. Competitors include Cisco Meraki's Z3 and Palo Alto Networks's Okyo Guard. However, Butler said EdgeConnect Microbranch is likely to draw interest from Aruba customers who prefer working with a single vendor.

General availability of EdgeConnect Microbranch is scheduled for March 2022. The hardware starts at $575. The Aruba Central integration costs an additional $145 per year.

The product is the latest addition to Aruba's Edge Services Platform, an umbrella term used to describe the company's integrated technologies for managing an Aruba-powered WAN and wired and wireless network.

The SD-WAN services available in Microbranch stem from Aruba's EdgeConnect SD-WAN. Aruba's parent company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, acquired the SD-WAN technology through the $925 million acquisition of Silver Peak in 2020.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Science, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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