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Aruba Introduces Appliance-Free Networking Solution for Home and Small Offices

Called EdgeConnect Microbranch, the new offering aims to help businesses extend the SD-WAN and SASE services at their main office to remote sites without deploying bulky gateway hardware or software agents. By Rich Freeman

Aruba has unveiled a networking solution designed to help organizations more easily extend SD-WAN, SASE, and other advanced services from offices to remote work sites.

Called Aruba EdgeConnect Microbranch, the new system aims to help businesses use the same connectivity and security services running at their main office at small and home offices as well without deploying bulky gateway appliances, according to Eve-Marie Lanza, Aruba’s senior solutions marketing manager for edge, IoT, and hybrid workplace.
“Many of us are working from home. Some of us are working from kitchen tables or repurposed closets. There’s not a lot of space to put one of these big boxes,” she says. 

EdgeConnect Microbranch, by contrast, requires only an Aruba Remote Access Point backed by the company’s Aruba Central cloud-based management platform. “The idea of deploying more and more gear into an employee’s home is really untenable,” Lanza says. “The more gear there is, the more there is to manage.”

The system doesn’t rely on software agents like some remote office networking solutions either. “That’s more for IT to manage and more for the home user to have to install on their own,” Lanza says, noting that printers, VoIP phones, and other devices frequently used at small and home offices don’t accept agents anyway.

Features included with the new system include policy-based routing, which organizations can use to prioritize videoconference traffic over video entertainment streams, for example. Automated tunnel and route orchestration lets companies dynamically redirect traffic to the fastest network path available.

“When I’m at home, I’m not experiencing delays or performance issues with my applications because of some corporate resource that happens to be down,” Lanza explains.

The solution provides near real-time updates on WAN availability, utilization, and throughput at remote sites and integrates with third-party SASE offerings directly via the access point. Businesses can use the system to secure and support mobile, temporary, and ad hoc locations like retail popups and kiosks, Aruba says, in addition to small and home offices.

EdgeConnect Microbranch is available now through an early access program, and is slated to enter general availability next March. Any organization with an Aruba access point running ArubaOS 10 and a Foundation AP License can deploy EdgeConnect Microbranch at no extra charge. Access point prices vary, starting with the entry-level Aruba 303H Series, which sells for $575. Aruba Central Foundation Licenses cost $145 per AP.

Businesses looking to enhance the security, reliability, and speed of their core infrastructure have been rolling out SD-WAN and SASE solutions at main offices since well before the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s been a challenge for IT to figure out how to deliver those services to the remote office the same way that they’re managed on campus,” Lanza says.

Technicians, she continues, often struggle to discover, monitor, and secure the consumer-grade equipment found on home networks, and to ensure that hybrid employees enjoy the same performance and uptime regardless of location.

“It really would be untenable for a business to have the 50% of its users on a call in the office doing great and the 50% of users who are at home experiencing audio issues or a call drop,” Lanza says.

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