Brocade and Aruba Networks are looking to challenge Cisco Systems by jointly developing a converged wired and wireless networking solution for campus environments.
At the same time, the two companies will look to bring software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities to campus networks to make the infrastructures more automated, programmable and cost-effective, according to officials with both Brocade and Aruba.
The joint solution will help campus network administrators better manage the various trends that are putting pressure on networks, from the rapid growth in the numbers of mobile devices and greater mobility among employees to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and SDN, according to Brocade CEO Lloyd Carney.
“Campus networks are buckling under the proliferation of today's mobile initiatives, which makes this space ripe for disruption and ready for the application of intelligent solutions," Carney said in a statement. "We view the campus network as the on-ramp to the virtualized data center and look forward to collaborating with Aruba to apply our cloud and SDN technologies to create a more unified and simplified solution."
Brocade and Aruba already offer integrated solutions, according to the companies. The new effort, announced Sept. 24, will focus R&D efforts to bring such integrated capabilities to campus networks in a number of areas, including the federal government.
The vendors will bring together Brocade’s HyperEdge architecture and Aruba’s Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) solution to create what officials are calling a simpler, mobility-centric campus network offering that offers context-based access and policy management for all users, no matter what devices or systems they use to connect to the network.
Brocade’s HyperEdge architecture is an integrated offering that includes the company’s switches, wireless controllers and access points aimed at creating an agile and cost-effective campus network, according to the company. It’s the foundation of what Brocade calls its Effortless Network strategy. Aruba’s MOVE offering integrates the vendor’s ClearPass Access Management System usage controls; AirWave management product for wired, wireless and remote networks; and mobility controllers for traffic management.
MOVE also includes 802.11ac WLAN access points, mobility access switches, Remote Access Points and Virtual Intranet Access VPN software. The mobility applications infrastructure includes the Aruba WorkSpace mobile BYOD app, Aruba APIs for location and analytics applications, and Meridian applications for visitor engagement.
MOVE can be deployed as a cloud-based services or on-premises.
Joining the technologies from Brocade and Aruba will give campus network administrators an alternative to what company officials say are Cisco solutions that are more expensive and force the customer into vendor lock-in.
"We believe customers have two choices to consider as they contend with the remarkable changes brought on by the growth of mobile devices and the BYOD trend," Aruba CEO Dominic Orr said in a statement. "The legacy, port-based route brings more complexity, lock-in and expense, whereas the mobility-centric approach from Aruba and Brocade is based on open standards and delivers the freedom of choice and lower costs."
The companies’ joint SDN efforts also will be a way of offering businesses a way of reducing costs when compared with Cisco. SDN is designed to decouple the network control plane from the underlying physical infrastructure, taking network intelligence from switches and routers and putting them into software. The results are networks that are more programmable, flexible, scalable and cost-effective.
Most established vendors—including Cisco and Brocade—are building their SDN strategies, while a range of smaller startups are looking to make inroads in the space. Officials with Aruba and Brocade said that by applying SDN principles via a network virtualization solution, they can offer solutions based on open standards that can replace legacy, multi-tier architectures.
What the solution will offer are automated IT operations, better collaboration capabilities though such offerings as Microsoft’s Lync and Apple’s AirPlay, and lower acquisition costs, compared with Cisco offerings.