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Aruba adds Client Insights in Central Foundation license

Aruba automated routine network management tasks like device discovery in Aruba Central. The customer plans to add a change rollback feature next.

Aruba has added Client Insights to the Aruba Central Foundation License, providing customers with a service for detecting and provisioning devices at no additional cost.

This week, the company also said it planned to add to its Central network management console an application that recommends firmware updates for access points and a Spanish-language version of the software's search function.

Client Insights identifies unknown devices and builds activity profiles of them. For instance, a device sending lots of data but receiving very little during the same hours as a business's security camera is likely a video camera. Client Insights then sends the device's profile and identity to Aruba's policy management platform ClearPass, which automatically assigns it the same permission set and role as similar devices. The discovery and provisioning process can take place without involving a network manager.

Previously a standalone app, Client Insights is now available as part of the Aruba Central Foundation license. More straightforward device onboarding in Aruba Central was a priority for Aruba Atmosphere attendees in March.

The price of the Foundation License will remain the same.

The Firmware Recommender feature, generally available in October, is an algorithm that recommends the firmware to run in an enterprise's wireless access points. The algorithm considers the size and type of enterprise, the network topology and the product version. The goal is to provide retailers, schools and factories with recommendations based on what others in their industries use.

In October, Aruba will also add Spanish-language support in AI Search, the company's natural language search function for calling up data about specific users, devices or sites.

Aruba Client Insights displays device types such as Apple iPads and Cisco access points. The dashboard also shows the number of devices by type.
Client Insights dashboard

Tasks like automated asset discovery aren't splashy. Still, they are how users like to test the reliability of automation in network management tools, said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

"Everyone talks about self-healing and self-optimizing, but the order of progression is just helping me get my assets under control, go out and automate the collection of where everything is," Laliberte said.

The network tasks enterprises automate the most are asset discovery, lifecycle management, and provisioning new devices based on centralized policy, according to an ESG survey of 233 networking professionals conducted last year.

Aruba expects customer interest in automation and AI-enabled network management to grow. The company has seen a "hockey stick of adoption," with the number of customers using Aruba Central doubling in the last two years, said Larry Lunetta, vice president of Aruba's wireless LAN portfolio.

To make customers feel more at ease with automating network tasks, Aruba plans to add to Central a "failsafe" button that would allow IT managers to reverse a change that doesn't perform as expected immediately, Lunetta said. He declined to say when customers could expect the feature.

"It's the drive to automation, but it's the careful drive to automation so that customers feel comfortable with it," Lunetta said.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, competes in a very active automated network management market. Last week, competitor Juniper Networks released AI-driven features to validate AP placement automatically, and last month, industry heavyweight Cisco released WAN Insights. The predictive networking engine alerts users of degrading WAN links before they break. 

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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 Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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