When Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired ARUBA last year, it was looking beyond simply bolting the ARUBA products on to its existing networking line-up. Instead, the best features of both product sets have been incorporated into a new set of campus and edge solutions.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Mark Esselmont and Pieter Engelbrecht explain that the company has not only rebranded the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA solution stack but added to it with features and service from both companies.

For instance, the popular HP ProCurve switches have been integrated in the Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA line-up, while the old ARUBA access and edge products round out the campus and branch offerings.

Perhaps the most important part of the integration, however, has been on making the full range secure and manageable, and this has been achieved with ARUBA’s leading tools.

One platform for manageability is important, Engelbrecht says, which is why ARUBA’s Clearpass management has emerged as something of a flagship offering across the product line.

Although ARUBA was best known for its wireless networking solutions, Esselmont points out that the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA suite of products offers a full wired and wireless solution, and that Clearpass is able to make the full environment.

Importantly, both the ARUBA and Hewlett Packard Enterprise networking products are based on open standards, so integration has been a lot quicker and less stressful than it might have been otherwise.

And, Esselmont adds, it means that customers don’t have to “rip and replace” existing equipment, but can easily deploy Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA solutions alongside their legacy.

“It also means there is no proprietary lock-in; and if you have an alternative vendor, we can interoperate with them because we are based on open standards.”

“This is important because users are saying that they don’t want vendor lock-in,” Esselmont adds. “Times are changing so quickly and when business or technology changes happen, they want to be able to implement new technology as required without having to do a forklift replacement.”

In fact, this is one of the reasons that the Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquisition of ARUBA and integration of the technology has been so seamless, adds Engelbrecht. “The marriage was quite seamless because both technologies were open standards. And it means that the ARUBA technology, with its well-known manageability and security, can be used alongside a lot of other networking vendors’ installations.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is driving four transformation areas. These areas are: transform to a hybrid infrastructure; protect the digital enterprise; enable workplace productivity; and empower the data-driven organisation. And, although the company doesn’t have its own cloud offering, it is a strategic cloud player since it sells the systems that create the cloud.

The acquisition of ARUBA has given Hewlett Packard Enterprise a leg-up into the mobility market, which is an important focus for both the digital enterprise and workplace productivity.

“ARUBA has traditionally been very strong in mobility, and is leading our charge into the branch and campus environment,” says Engelbrecht. “The data centre networking products remain our traditional Hewlett Packard Enterprise product line-up, but ARUBA allows us to extend this further than ever.”

The mobile-first workplace is the working embodiment of this strategy, Esselmont points out. “The big thing for us is the intelligent workplace and employee efficiency. Workers should be able to operate efficiently wherever they are – be that in the office, in a meeting room or in open spaces within the campus.”

“Our solutions help companies to improve productivity, giving staff and customers access wherever they are, seamlessly with full security on the back-end.”

A number of Hewlett Packard Enterprise offices around the world have already implemented the ARUBA campus solution, he adds, but a strategic focus for the technology is in the education environment.

“We provide intelligent Wi-Fi for all vertical markets,” Esselmont adds “but our main strengths are in education, healthcare, financial and niche wireless applications.”

Location-based services are another feature that ARUBA adds to the integrated line-up; as well as end user connectivity and experience – all elements that Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be missing from its technology in the past, he points out.

In describing a network as intelligent, Engelbrecht explains that this involves features like wayfinding, applications and push notifications. But it also means that the network is able to prioritise access and connectivity based on the user and the application.

“This is where software-defined networking (SDN) comes in,” he says. “And today every customer wants to talk about SDN.”

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has a head start in this area as one of the founders of SDN from a LAN (Local Area Network) perspective, he adds. “And our SDN comes very much from an open standards point of view.

“OpenFlow is freely available to any vendor and any switch that supports OpenFlow can tie into Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s SDN strategy,” Engelbrecht adds.

“With OpenFlow and SDN, the network can start delivering an application-driven experience.”

Esselmont explains further: “The network knows who the user is and what applications he is using, and can therefore prioritise application accessibility.”

The SDN functionality will soon also be extended to Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s data centre switches.


The power of two

Engelbrecht is excited about the opportunities that will arise both from the acquisition of ARUBA and the splitting of HP into HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

“In terms of the HP split, this means that even more R&D will be available,” he says. The addition of the ARUBA technology brings software and manageability to the line-up as well.

For Esselmont, with his history at ARUBA, the acquisition by Hewlett Packard Enterprise has opened up a whole new market. “With Hewlett Packard Enterprise, our visibility in the market has been brilliant. We have been approached by a lot of big corporates who see us as a value player and a strategic partner.

“We’ve also had great access to new resellers and even got traction in the public sector where we had no visibility before.”

In terms of structure, The Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA team, with its sales and pre-sales specialisation, is part of the bigger Hewlett Packard Enterprise team that offers customers solutions in servers, storage, software and networking.

“Part of our strength is that we are part of the bigger organisation, with a bigger footprint and better visibility.”


Go-to-market strategy

The merged Hewlett Packard Enterprise and ARUBA networking offers will be offered to the market via the channel.

“Our go to market is 99% channel, it always has been,” says Engelbrecht.

There are currently two different partner programmes – legacy from the two different companies – but from 1 November 2016 these will merge into a single Hewlett Packard Enterprise ARUBA programme.

“The merger has opened up a wealth of new opportunities for ARUBA,” says Esselmont. “We have signed more than 100 new partners in sub-Saharan Africa already.”

As the new product line-up gains traction, and the single partner programme emerges, the company is expecting to see a lot more interest from reseller partners, for both volume and high-value sales.

Distribution will play an important role in developing the channel, and the company is looking to value-added distributors like AxizWorkgroup to drive new opportunities.

“From a distributor perspective, I see the value is going to be in assisting SMB partners, and in intensifying the run-rate business,” Engelbrecht says. “Distribution will need to have the skill sets to support all of these partners; to assist with proof of concept and to get involved in installations as well.”

He believes the demo facility at AxizWorkgroup will also add value and Hewlett Packard Enterprise will certainly encourage SMB partners to use is. “The demo room is a great value-add,” Engelbrecht says. “It’s a good idea to let partners and customers see how the equipment actually all works.”