Aruba Shines At HPE Discover 2019

By Will Townsend - June 8, 2019
Aruba CEO Keerti Melkote on stage at HPE Discover 2019.

I attended HPE Discover this week in Las Vegas. It was no surprise to hear the company speak of its continued investment in edge, announcing an additional $1 billion earmarked for channel referral fees and rebates to align its sales motion to solution offerings. At last year’s event CEO Antonio Neri announced a $4 billion investment in edge over the next 4 years. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s a total of $5 billion now.

One of HPE’s key acquisitions, Aruba, is playing a decidedly pivotal role. Keerti Melkote, President and Founder, leads HPE’s overall effort in the “Intelligent Edge.” Enhancing customer experience at Aruba is at the heart of putting intelligence at the edge of the network. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Melkote on several occasions, and I’ve always been impressed with his “customer first” mentality in driving the business forward. I’ve also written about Aruba’s edge efforts, and if interested you can find that article here. With all of that said, I would like to share my impressions and insights from Discover 2019.

Instant On and Aruba Central enhancements 

Aruba announced its Instant On effort just days before HPE Discover. I believe it’s a solid strategy to bring enterprise-grade networking solutions down market into the small to medium business space. These organizations tend to purchase lower-cost equipment from the likes of Linksys, D-Link, Netgear, and others that are better suited for consumer use in the home. Management claims that the Instant On opportunity represents a nearly $3B addressable market—one that from my perspective has the potential to double Aruba’s gross revenue over time and continue the company’s profitable trajectory.

HPE also announced at the event a number of new enhancements to Aruba Central. These include AI-powered analytics and assurance, improved management and orchestration for its SD-Branch solution, integrated IoT security, and new workflow management—all aimed at simplifying operations by bringing everything into a single pane of glass. On the surface, these features individually aren’t necessarily groundbreaking but aggregating them in an effort to ease networking deployment and ongoing operations will be valuable to customers. I’ll also add that Aruba has made solid progress on the security front by integrating its ClearPass and IntroSpect offerings into its overall infrastructure stack. Recent awards by SC Media and Cyber Defense magazine serve as proof points.

Everything as a service and GreenLake for the masses

One of the major headlines at HPE Discover this year was the company’s commitment to offering its entire portfolio as a service by 2022. To that end, HPE also announced it was extending its GreenLake IT consumption model from the enterprise to the mid-market with Aruba. If you’re not familiar with GreenLake, it’s HPE’s delivery of hybrid and private cloud, storage, compute, networking, as well as workloads as a service. By adding Aruba, I believe HPE will continue to ramp its consumption service adoption from a networking perspective which today represents a nearly $3B business with a claimed 99% renewal rate. GreenLake’s success is evident in its 40% growth in HPE’s most recent financial quarter.

Wrapping Up

My last scheduled meeting at HPE Discover this year punctuated my overall experience. Aruba arranged a lunch with one of its customers, a private college in western Pennsylvania. As we discussed a range of topics from automation to Wi-Fi analytics, I learned that in every five-year refresh cycle for the institution, Aruba executives, including the CEO and CTO, were personally involved to ensure smooth transitions. This really stuck out to me. Though it may be difficult for Aruba to scale this involvement over time as the company grows, it points to its relentless pursuit of ensuring the best possible customer outcomes. Combine that with its compelling set of networking solutions, and Aruba has a holistic approach for sustained success. 

Will Townsend
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Will Townsend manages the networking and security practices for Moor Insights & Strategy focused on carrier infrastructure providers, carrier services, enterprise networking and security. He brings over 30 years of technology industry experience in a variety of product, marketing, channel, business development and sales roles to his advisory position.