Aruba all-in-one box simplifies branch office communications

Aruba Networks today announced the availability of the 7000 series controller, an all-in-one box that aims to simplify branch office IT.

Aruba Networks today announced the availability of the 7000 series cloud services controller, an all-in-one box that aims to dramatically simplify branch office IT for far-flung businesses.

The 7000 series combines a host of capabilities into a single unit, featuring a stateful firewall, deep packet inspection, WAN optimization, RF interference control and user access control, Aruba said.

This single-point-of-contact system is the right idea, according to analyst Craig Mathias, principal at the Farpoint Group, and author of a white paper commissioned by Aruba for the announcement.

"Consolidating all required branch IT functions into a single, convenient, low-cost, centrally-managed package is the preferred approach to extending operations essentially anywhere," he said.

The 7000 series features several form factors. At the low end is the compact 7005, featuring 2Gbps of firewall throughput and the ability to handle 1,024 concurrent users, while the high end is represented by the 7030, a 1U unit that pushes those numbers to 8Gbps and 4,096 concurrent users.

The devices will range in price from $1,495 for the 7005 at the low end up to $6,995 for the 7030, and are available today, though not all features will be available until the second quarter of this year.

Preliminary customers, however, have been using the 7000 series since at least mid-2014. One of those is Canadian hardware chain Home Hardware.

Home Hardware is a national institution with 1,100 locations across the country. Mark Lussier, the company's special projects manager, said that some of those locations are in remote, rural areas where connectivity is at a premium.

"We don't always have a lot of options in rural Canada, so we may have cable, we may not, we may be DSL, we may have a satellite," he said. "So a device that can [handle failover] on all of that is key."

Moreover, the company's franchisees don't necessarily have professional IT experience at their fingertips, making ease of use a crucial consideration, he said.

"Our stores are independent, so our store managers are typically the technical guys at that end -- their job is to mix paint and cut keys and quote sheds," Lussier told Network World. "They can tell you they have Internet, but they can't tell you what kind, in a lot of cases."

The centralized nature of the 7000 series, however, is the main attraction for Home Hardware, he said.

"For us, it's an all-in-one -- we do a fair amount of site-to-site VPNs, we do some cloud connectivity to a hosted AD controller, we use wireless, we use the firewalls and VLAN rules fairly extensively," Lussier said.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of the news that HP has agreed to purchase Aruba for $3 billion, in a transaction due to close in the second half of HP's fiscal year. Aruba CEO Dominic Orr and CTO Keerti Melkote will remain with the new business unit, which will be a part of the HP Enterprise group after the company splits in two later this year.

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