Aruba introduced its new EdgeConnect Microbranch solution, a home office and small office networking solution for hybrid work environments that securely provides remote personnel all of the traditional services workers receive in-office via a single Wi-Fi access point (AP) – with no gateway, agent or additional hardware required at the remote site.
With EdgeConnect Microbranch, IT departments can ensure the employee experience is consistent no matter where workers are located. EdgeConnect Microbranch enables this by delivering the full range of on-campus connectivity services to remote workers, accelerating troubleshooting, and maintaining corporate protections by seamlessly extending on-campus Zero Trust and Secure Access Services Edge (SASE) security frameworks to the home office/small office.
EdgeConnect Microbranch, part of Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform), comprises APs and a new suite of SD-WAN services and builds upon Aruba’s legacy of delivering robust connectivity, security, and zero touch onboarding experiences to the home office through its popular Remote Access Points (RAPs).
SD-WAN has been added to large branches and campuses to deal with the increasing demands for higher application performance, reliability, and security. Now, as hybrid work becomes the norm, home and small remote offices need the automated, policy-based traffic management and cloud-based SASE security of Aruba SD-WAN to efficiently, robustly, and securely support a workforce that increasingly is remote. In fact, IDC estimates that 70% of G2000 organizations will deploy remote or hybrid-first work models, redefining work processes.
For organizations, the key to successfully enabling flexible and remote work is the ability to provide hybrid workers with the same access to tools, applications, and functionality at home as in the office. The new EdgeConnect Microbranch solution does this by adding new SD-WAN and SASE services to the connectivity, identity-based access control, management, and analytics capabilities users have enjoyed with Aruba RAPs – without the need for additional hardware on premises or agents on devices. Not needing additional hardware is an important factor in space-constrained home offices, small offices, and ad-hoc locations unstaffed by IT, such as retail pop-ups, kiosks, and mobile clinics.
EdgeConnect Microbranch services address common challenges associated with remote work, such as the need to guarantee the performance of latency-sensitive applications like unified communication and collaboration while ensuring proper security and contending with a higher density of bandwidth-hungry devices that may be on the network.
New EdgeConnect Microbranch services such as policy-based routing, which enables IT to optimize how application traffic is routed to a destination, complement existing services such as Air Slice, which dynamically allocates AP radio resources to specific applications. For example, video conferencing call quality can be improved by prioritizing that traffic over video entertainment, and then routing the video conferencing traffic directly to the trusted SaaS vendor, bypassing an unnecessary trip to the data center for inspection.
“EdgeConnect Microbranch gives organizations a modern, scalable approach for enabling remote work and making the home office experience equivalent to being in-office,” said Larry Lunetta, VP of Solutions Portfolio Marketing at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “While some may believe that the only network service that can be extended to the home office AP/router is security – and even that requires an extra box, EdgeConnect Microbranch demonstrates that, with a cloud-based approach, all critical network services can be extended to the home office solely through an access point.”
By extending the already robust RAP in-home experience with key SD-WAN features, EdgeConnect Microbranch is now an ideal solution for hybrid operations like contact centers, telehealth, and IT management, where uptime and security are critical.
EdgeConnect Microbranch is a solution that improves upon typical approaches that require extensive hardware footprints within the small and home office to deliver SD-WAN and SASE services, as well as consumer-grade hardware and single-purpose appliances that lack robust manageability and functionality.
New SD-WAN features and benefits
- Policy-based routing: Allows IT to deliver application performance and security based on automated rules to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) for specific applications, websites or types of users
- Tunnel and route orchestration: Optimizes network performance by orchestrating VPN tunnels on demand and automatically rerouting traffic to the network path that will provide the best performance
- SASE integration: Provides secure connectivity to cloud security services such as Zscaler directly via the AP and with Aruba Central providing orchestration of tunnels and unified configuration management
- Enhanced WAN visibility: Accelerates troubleshooting and improves the user experience by providing near real-time updates on WAN availability, utilization, and throughput by detecting latency, jitter, and other connectivity issues impacting the ISP that have traditionally been hidden from IT teams
These features build upon existing capabilities of Aruba’s remote access solutions, including:
- Traffic prioritization: Assigns radio resources to an application and dynamically changes assignments as application sessions begin or end
- Massive scalability: Supports zero touch deployment and consolidated management for tens of thousands of remote workers via Aruba Central’s cloud-based services and AOS 10
- Improved uptime and reliability: Provides for LTE backup via a USB interface should the home or small office lose ISP connectivity
“As remote working continues to expand, IT departments are facing an increasing number of challenges, such as ensuring visible, easily managed, and highly secure access for all workers – no matter where they are located – to business-critical applications and data,” said Chris DePuy, technology analyst at 650 Group. “Being able to extend Zero Trust and SASE security frameworks to home and remote offices will play an important role as enterprises move their hybrid work initiatives forward.”
Pricing and availability
The Aruba EdgeConnect Microbranch solution is available in Early Access and will be generally available in March 2022 for any AP running ArubaOS 10 with a Foundation AP License (including qualified APs customers already own and manage in Central.) Aruba Central Foundation Licenses are available for $145 per AP. AP pricing varies per model and starts at $575.00 US for the Aruba 303H Series.