Aruba Expands Into Cloud Wi-Fi Management

Distributed Aruba access points can be managed remotely; Tapestry measures network complexity; Network Instruments launches monitoring tool; DDN appliance aims to scale high.

October 7, 2013

5 Min Read
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Aruba Networks launched a new service that allows enterprises to manage wireless access points (APs) from the cloud, which the company touted as providing the same reliability and performance as enterprise-grade WLANs.

Aimed at distributed enterprises and midsize networks, the cloud Wi-Fi system combines the new Aruba Central cloud-based management service with Aruba Instant APs, including the new Instant 155 wireless and wired AP, the new Instant 220 series 802.11ac wireless AP and a new version of Aruba Instant OS. Aruba Central is a globally distributed system, hosted across seven different points-of-presence (PoPs) and spanning multiple cloud providers.

The Aruba Instant 155 APs are designed for simple installation on desktops and provide speeds up to 450 Mbps and four Gigabit Ethernet ports with Power over Ethernet (PoE) for connecting wired peripherals. The Aruba Instant 220 series APs are designed for the high-speed 802.11ac specification and offer up to 1.3 Gbps performance; they use Aruba’s ClientMatch technology to direct mobile devices to the closest AP and best radio on the WLAN. The cloud Wi-Fi management service supports branch offices and home offices within the same architecture using a single management and policy infrastructure.

Aruba is not the only company looking to provide cloud-based network management infrastructure. Late last year Cisco paid $1.2 billion for cloud Wi-Fi management vendor Meraki, and this summer it released the Cisco Meraki Managed Services Dashboard, which allows managed service providers to market the Meraki suite as an outsourced service to their customers and manage both WLANs and wired networks.

According to the recent Worldwide Enterprise WLAN 2013-2014 Vendor Analysis released by IDC, Cisco, Aruba and Ruckus are leaders in enterprise Wi-Fi market while vendors in IDC's "major players" category include ADTRAN, HP Networking and Juniper Networks.

[Read Lee Badman's analysis of how Aruba's first cloud-managed WLAN service stacks up in "Aruba Debuts Bare-Bones Cloud WLAN."

As noted in the last year’s InformationWeek Report: Cloud-Managed WLAN Buyer's Guide, many WLANs have grown more geographically distributed and mission-critical, and effective system management tools are required to avoid misconfiguration, intrusion and downtime.

Infoblox Founder Unveils Tapestry

Infoblox Founder and CTO Stuart Bailey created a new open source tool for measuring network complexity. Called Tapestry, the tool can run on virtually any computer or set of computers.

Expected to be available next month for download through the FlowForwarding.Org project, the open source software provides a framework for understanding the complexity of networks and controlling network costs. Bailey worked with his research team and long-time collaborator Robert Grossman at the University of Chicago to develop a formula for complexity that takes into account the number of endpoints on a network and how they interact to perform key business functions.

The so-called Bailey-Grossman equation generates a Network Complexity Index (NCI) number based on endpoint interaction data from control systems across the network including the DNS. Network administrators will be able to monitor changes in NCI data over time to better understand the growth curve of their network’s complexity to drive decisions around planning and spending.

Tapestry will run on a free, open source software-defined networking (SDN) control plane from called Loom. Loom, in turn, will control SDN white boxes, built on inexpensive programmable Ethernet processors. These white boxes can be deployed in front of a network’s DNS servers without disrupting existing infrastructure or operations.

Network Instruments Debuts NMS

Network Instruments rolled out a new appliance to help network administrators optimize the flow of traffic from network links to other mission critical devices, such as those used to manage performance and security. The Matrix Network Monitoring Switch (NMS) is designed for midsize to large enterprises.

The 1U NMS appliance supports up to 24 ports for connecting and monitoring 1-Gbit or 10-Gbit network links. Eight to 24 ports can be activated with the initial purchase. Organizations can activate increments of four ports as needed and daisy chain appliances to expand beyond 24 ports for added scalability. Matrix can be managed using external tools via the RESTful API; other features include de-duplication, advanced filtering, packet trimming and flexible time-stamping.

According to research firm Ovum, several vendors compete in the market for network monitoring switches, also called network packet brokers. Vendors in the space include specialists, tool vendors such as Ixia and NetScout, and switch vendors such as Arista, which “see monitoring switch functions as part of the network visibility overview they envision as part of their expanded role under software-defined networking," Ovum's Karen Liu wrote.

DataDirect Appliance Targets Big Data

DataDirect Networks (DDN) released a new WOS7000 object storage appliance aimed at helping enterprises deal with "web-scale" IT and big data using the company’s latest version of its distributed object-based storage technology, Web Object Scaler (WOS) 3.0. Gartner uses the term "web-scale IT" as a way to describe processes at large cloud service providers such as Google and Facebook.

DDN said the appliance can deliver trillion-file scalability by enabling the federation of WOS clusters of up to 983 petabytes and 32 trillion unique objects. Performance-wise, the appliance can support object retrieval of 256 million objects per second and throughput of more than 10 Tbytes per second with object retrieval latency of less than 50 milliseconds, according to DDN.

A new feature in the latest WOS is integration with DDN’s GRIDScaler parallel file storage system. This company says this has boosted its traction in the entertainment industry, with more than 600 customers worldwide deploying its technology to support their video infrastructure. Last month, DDN announced pay TV giant Starz Entertainment deployed GRIDScaler for its flagship STARZ and ENCORE networks. DDN’s technology also is designed for high-performance computing and surveillance.

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