HPE Aruba Networking Sets Its Sights On Agile NaaS At Atmosphere 2023

By Will Townsend, Patrick Moorhead - June 3, 2023

Featured image above: Phil Mottram, EVP & GM, HPE Aruba Networking | Atmosphere 2023

Aruba recently hosted its signature Atmosphere event in Las Vegas. Much has transpired for the perennial networking infrastructure provider over the past year, including its further integration into Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), signified by its branding change to “HPE Aruba Networking.” The latter is an intelligent move, maintaining the credibility that the Aruba Networks acquisition has brought to HPE as one of the first movers in wireless enterprise networking. It also allows HPE to further align brands within its portfolio, making it easier for partners to sell and customers to consume the corresponding infrastructure and associated IT and OT services.

I had the opportunity to be pre-briefed by HPE executives to garner further insights into what was announced at Atmosphere, and I would like to share what I find compelling.

Agile NaaS and Central enhancements

The centerpiece announcement at Atmosphere this year focused on the further refinement of HPE’s network-as-a-service (NaaS) purpose-built offerings for indoor, outdoor and other deployment scenarios. I provided my insights last year at Atmosphere 2022 related to the portfolio and you can read more about it if interested. Positioning its wares now within an agile NaaS framework, the company aims to deliver on its new brand promise with several architectural updates.

New tools are available that tailor a NaaS strategy to specific customer needs, support a range of deployment and management models that do not require a forklift upgrade and bolster protection with security enhancements. All the updates are compelling and should go far to extend HPE’s leadership in NaaS. There’s also a potential bonus with the company’s agile NaaS framework from a sustainability standpoint: HPE is leveraging renewable energy sources and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to optimize power consumption for its NaaS customers.

HPE’s networking management console, Central, is also getting a significant facelift thanks to a complete user interface overhaul. I like the new “solar system” and “sunburst” layouts that make navigation and visualization of network topologies much more visual and intuitive. However, Central’s beauty is more than skin deep. Other important new features include what HPE claims is an industry-first “time travel” function that allows network operators to tap a contextually correlated view of the network to implement a rapid recovery to a specific point in time. HPE is also adding new assurance indicators for device health and client experience, as well as bolstering its AIOps full-stack capabilities, first introduced with its Edge Services Platform, to aid in troubleshooting and solving issues more quickly.

Key acquisitions extend HPE’s enterprise connectivity reach

HPE has been on an acquisition tear lately, and two of its purchases extend its networking reach within the enterprise. The first is Athonet, which gives the company an instant seat at the table for private 5G opportunities versus the more reactive fallback of having Celona on its price list in the past. The second notable acquisition is Axis Security. What I like about Axis is that by fortifying HPE’s SD-WAN/SD-Branch offering with security service edge (SSE) functionality, HPE will be able to deliver a complete offering from edge to cloud to secure access service edge (SASE) that supports modern hybrid work at scale.

HPE intends to unify its overall portfolio approach, including both Athonet and Axis Security, to ease customer deployment and management and eliminate the complexity of overlays. Given the continued convergence of functional management, networking and security for operational and information technology, this effort makes perfect sense. If HPE can execute and do it quickly, this approach should provide the company with ample sales upside.

Wrapping Up

The Atmosphere event further established HPE’s leadership position in NaaS, reinforcing the importance of the recent acquisitions that better equip it to compete for private cellular networking deployments and bolster its SASE capabilities. I couldn’t help but see a “triple A” analogy emerge from the event—an Agile Aruba Atmosphere. Triple-A credit ratings are assigned to companies that meet defined commitments and have the lowest risk of default. HPE Aruba Networking has a similar track record in the enterprise, and if it can continue to execute, it should pave the way for continued success.

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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.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.