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Aruba Atmosphere '22 was one of the most interesting and unique conferences thus far in 2022. From the very beginning of the conference Aruba set a very friendly and comfortable atmosphere for learning, which began with a seamless registration process and extended to the Airheads Community which numerous attendees found intriguing. During the conference we were able to meet with the Aruba team and explore what's new at today's evolving edge. The WWT team was also able to network and gain insights from industry experts, peers and leaders about how Aruba's latest innovations would differentiate them and help us grow our business. 

Some members of the team enjoyed the Airheads track where they got to meet with other industry engineers to include Aruba engineers, product managers and other technical experts. This track allowed me to better understand emerging technologies and some of the design principles that Aruba is utilizing. Some topics discussed in the track included customer journeys around Zero Trust and SASE policies, distributed workforces, as-a-Service and network innovations.

Adopt a Zero Trust and SASE policy 

Work from home, digital transformation and IoT have increased the threat landscape, requiring innovative network security strategies. These sessions tackled best practices for implementing a secure edge-to-cloud network, so you can gain full visibility, control and enforcement with a built-in foundation for Zero Trust and SASE frameworks. During the break sessions more detailed areas were discussed like:  

  • Implementing edge-to-cloud network security with Zero Trust and SASE best practices.
  • Using business intent and AI/ML to define and deploy automated policies without manual effort.
  • Accessing contextually aware, behavioral insights and a comprehensive view to ensure network security.

I found Aruba's approach and best practices to implementing security for Zero Trust and SASE architectures was highly informative. However, I initially thought Aruba was remarkably like what we have seen with some of their competitors. This was before I found out about how Aruba is now using AI/ML and contextual awareness creating what is a true "game changer." 

Connect your distributed workforce 

Discussions continued around the fact that more and more employees are working remotely.  How is this affecting network security and visibility? Businesses are demanding an in-office experience, no matter where the employees are. It's time to rethink WAN and security architectures to take advantage of automation, orchestration and integration with public clouds and SaaS to deliver the highest app performance for users at the edge – whether they're in campus, branch or micro-branch locations. The conversation during breakouts included thoughts around:  

  • Architecting a modern SD-WAN edge that enables enterprises to get the maximum value from cloud investments.
  • Extending SD-WAN capabilities from the remote worker to the distributed enterprise.
  • Understanding the ins and outs of SASE.
  • Introducing the Aruba SD-WAN Fabric, including a deep dive into the technical aspects of EdgeConnect solutions.

Accelerate outcomes with as-a-Service 

This discussion was around increasing difficulty keeping pace with changing business and network requirements. Traditional IT has been struggling to quickly shift to hybrid work and learning environments. At the same time, other industries like healthcare and retail are under pressure to deliver reliable, scalable and secure technologies that ensure the best user experiences. This discussion included topics like:  

  • Aruba as a Service solutions like HPE GreenLake.
  • Exploring how as-a-Service options can alleviate the burden of long-term network planning and budgeting by delivering all hardware, software and services in a single monthly subscription.
  • Providing faster network technology refresh lifecycles through upcycling and/or recycling of equipment.
  • Allowing more rapid deployments of new features and functionality.
  • Keeping pace with the demands of today's dynamic ecosystem of hardware and software technologies.

This was a highly informative conversation and I found Aruba's approach to providing solutions that enable any organization's to easily pivot as newer technologies are brought to market to be forward thinking. Aruba presented an approach for handling this is by having organizations adopt more of an as-a-Service model. This includes capabilities such as monitoring and maintaining networks by utilizing solutions like HPE's GreenLake. This solution is a proactive Network as a Service offering that combines hardware, software and support with a predictable subscription model to deliver a network infrastructure designed to meet customer's business objectives while providing faster time to value.  

Network innovations

This next discussion involved advancements in Aruba's Wireless, campus infrastructure, Next-Gen Network with Aruba Unified infrastructure and much more. Aruba announced during this session a remarkably interesting innovation called Open Locate. One of WWT's lead wireless engineers shared his thoughts:

 "As a wireless engineer, the most exciting thing I saw at Atmosphere was the announcement of Open Locate. This technology promises to locate the wireless infrastructure, in a universal reference frame (latitude and longitude), automatically and precisely. This capability is enabled using a combination of GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Fine Time Measurement (FTM) protocol. While I believe Aruba is still scratching the surface of the potential Open Locate brings, the following benefits were highlighted during Atmosphere." – Chris Radford

Along with the Air track discussions, we were able to spend some time in Aruba's Innovation Zone where we saw some of the latest innovations from Aruba and several of their sponsors like Ekahau, Zscaler, Zebra and Checkpoint to name a few.  

Overall, I think the conference was a real success and much information gained will tie directly into ongoing WWT GTM strategies like those around SASE, return to work/return to office and others. Aruba has an extremely aggressive road map with numerous technologies that could potential to reshape the IT landscape but if you want to become familiar with some of the solutions currently available in the WWT ATC, please follow any of the links below.

Aruba Wireless and Clearpass Foundations Lab 

Aruba CX Switching Lab 

Aruba Central Management Lab 

Aruba ClearPass Foundations Lab 

Silver Peak SD-WAN Foundations Lab