Networking in the cloud remains HPE Aruba's focus

Aruba CTO Partha Narasimhan acknowledges that customers are getting comfortable with the idea of networking-as-a-service.

Assisting businesses with migrating their networks to the cloud will remain as one of the top priorities for Aruba in the years ahead, according to the company's CTO Partha Narasimhan.

Narasimhan told ZDNet during his visit to Sydney this week that while compute and storage have largely moved to the cloud, networking is still a few years behind.

"The networking industry as a whole is behind in adopting cloud. Large complex networks are still largely on-prem. People have different reasons why they haven't moved. People have to get comfortable," he said.

In recognising this trend, Aruba, which has been a HPE company since it was acquired nearly five years ago, has been on what Narasimhan referred to as a "multi-year journey" to service customers both looking to migrate their networks into the cloud and those still looking to keep it on-premises.

"Internally there's been a lot of R&D to migrate all of our software products and make them available as cloud native technologies which allows us to create options. Whether you want to consume it as a service, or we can also roll it up and develop it as an on-prem solution for customers that are not ready yet -- the experience will be no different," he said.

"The cloud to us is not a place where you run workloads. It's where you develop solutions for customers."

See also: Network brownouts costing some companies up to $700k annually (TechRepublic)

But the process is not as simple as shifting applications to the cloud. Narasimhan said it requires making "deep changes" at the infrastructure layer, "otherwise we'd look like we're just putting lipstick on a pig".

"At some point, the lipstick wears out and it's visible," he said.

Aside from seeing interest from customers about making their entire network operate as a service, Narasimhan said Aruba's decision to move to the cloud is also partly motivated by efficiency.

"We want to make it easy. We see a future where data will make IT operation efficient. We went to be able to look for patterns in customer networks and we can do that instantaneous when everything is running in the cloud," he said.

Beyond cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) is another area of interest for Aruba, signalled by the number of AI-powered solutions the company has on the market, all of which are available in the cloud.

Narasimhan highlighted how Aruba has been intentional in the way the company has designed and integrated AI into its technologies.

"The dirty secret about AI is the amount of human intelligence that goes into training the machines. We feel like [with] the diversity and the types of customer bases which we have access to, we have seen more interesting things that our customers have tried to do, and that goes into training those AI engines," he said.

"On one side you have data and on the other side you have human intelligence that says if you throw this data to the engine it's going to find all kinds of patterns.

"But how do we shape it to find the patterns that have the most impact? I think that combination is the value-add that Aruba has."

He said this approach has been particularly useful when it comes creating security parameters around Internet of Things (IoT) that exist within customer networks.

See also: 3 main inhibitors to IoT adoption in the enterprise (TechRepublic) 

"IoT is the biggest source of concern among our customers and these devices are not necessarily built with high security in mind, especially those on the consumer side. Some of the devices in highly secure environments such as healthcare, retail, and financial, are built with little security.

"We believe that process won't necessarily change and so we believe the best way around it is to provide a layer of the protection from the network infrastructure. Once we have that, we can push the right policies in there and make sure these devices are not being exploited by someone trying to get inside the network so there's a monitoring element.

"We believe the security parameters are necessary. We all recommend customers to work on the assumption things will break."

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