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Aruba Central Key to MSPs for a Wi-Fi-as-a-Service Offering

WiFi

Lynn HaberARUBA ATMOSPHERE — Aruba Central for deploying and operating wireless as a managed service isn’t just for big telecom companies like AT&T anymore, or those who have the resources to build a very customized operation for Wi-Fi as a service. Today, Aruba offers an easier and more affordable onramp for smaller regional service providers and reseller partners to build a Wi-Fi-as-a-service offering.

Over the past year, Aruba overhauled its Central platform offering, positioning the company to deliver cloud managed networking capabilities and move into a managed service offering framework, particularly for Wi-Fi in distributed business, or branch office environments, as well as the SMB segment.

Aruba's Gokul Rajagopalan“Over the last 12-18 months we’ve seen a keen interest among our customers across verticals, and also from a lot of our partner base, especially post acquisition, in consuming Wi-Fi as a service,” Gokul Rajagopalan, with the management team for Aruba Central cloud applications, told an audience of about 75 attendees at a breakout session – “How to deploy and operate a wireless as a managed service using Aruba Central” – held Wednesday at Aruba Atmosphere 2017 in Nashville.

For the 60 percent of partners in the room interested in building an MSP practice, and becoming service providers for Wi-Fi as a service, the session addressed how to build, finance and deliver services to customers.

It was noted that many partners are looking to rise in the value chain and create differentiation in their businesses, a key driver for interest in building a Wi-Fi as a service offering. So, for example, a partner may start with single customer — say a global retail chain with more than 20,000 locations, with more than 10,000 access points. In using a public cloud deployment for this retail chain, the partner begins with a single customer, adding additional services, such as guest and presence analytics, for example.{ad}

Over time, the partner could bring on additional customers to build a Wi-Fi-as-a-service practice.

According to Rajagopalan, there are a number of conveniences that MSPs need to have in order to sustainably grow a service-offering operation and assurances that customers need before consuming such a service. That’s where Aruba Central comes in.

Aruba Central, a cloud managed services platform, offers cloud management, such as monitoring, configuration, troubleshooting and reporting. It also offers cloud services, such as guest Wi-Fi with customer profiles; app and web traffic analytics; presence analytics per location; and Clarity, a recent feature in Aruba’s AirWave network management product that helps understand the user experience or …

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… the performance of a device connecting to the network. Over time, additional services could be added to the cloud managed service platform, such as security, for example.

Offered in an as-a-service model, the variety of apps are designed to be consumed a la carte.

Partners can brand, or white label, the service as their own using Aruba Central as the backbone to support a services offering, and the MSP manages and owns the relationship with the customer.

Today, Aruba Central manages Aruba instant access points and Aruba switches but will be adding the Aruba mobility line of controllers to its portfolio in the near future.

Managed services in the cloud, powered by Aruba Central, offers service providers the ability to manage multiple accounts: single pool of devices and subscriptions; flexible subscription, device, configuration assignments; and a single monitoring dashboard.

How it works?{ad}

Service providers purchase subscriptions from Process: Aruba, define templates, create accounts and assign configuration templates; assign devices to customers and licenses to the devices; change, configure, manage firmware, troubleshoot or terminate account.

Rajagopalan calls Central a turnkey partner-ready platform that partners can use to deliver high-value services for higher profitability.

Turnkey or not, there will be challenges for partners to spin up managed service offerings in that the typical networking partners isn’t traditionally geared to support an as-a-service licensing, renewal type of business model rather than dealing with point products.

“The Partner Ready for Networking Program, introduced in November 2016, gives us the vehicle to now bring these types of opportunities to our partners,” Chris Kozup, vice president, marketing at Aruba, told us.

The enablement for partners around Central began at this year’s Atmosphere event, but that will be followed over the next six months with an extensive plan around how to enable partners, get them up to speed and educate them on the offering — from both a technical and business level.

The takeaway for partners is that Central offers them a path to build their mobility practices and respond to an increasing desire from customers to have a more flexible consumption model for how they consume networking and networking services.


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