Aruba Extends WLAN Infrastructure to the Internet of Things
The Aruba division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise has introduced a new Internet of Things solution that allows businesses to turn their existing Wi-Fi infrastructure into a platform for tracking high-value assets.
The announcement was made at Palo Alto, Calif.-based HPE’s 2017 Discover event for partners and customers, which officially opens today in Las Vegas.
Aruba’s new asset tracking system combines any existing Aruba wireless access point that has Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity with new BLE-equipped tags, a new mobile app for configuring those tags, and a cloud-based management solution. Together, those components allow users to determine where tagged assets are located with 10 to 15-foot accuracy after a few minutes of wait time.
Aruba developed the tags, which are about the size of a quarter, and all of the software in-house.
Designed to serve as a starter kit for newcomers to asset tracking, the system integrates via APIs and a new software development kit with more robust solutions from third-party developers, allowing end users to scale their deployment as their needs increase.
“It’s relatively easy to start small and grow big,” says Özer Dondurmacıoğlu, general manager for Aruba’s Meridian Apps group.
The new solution builds upon a foundation established earlier by Meridian’s location monitoring system, which uses Aruba WLAN access points and a mobile app to keep tabs on people as they move about offices, warehouses, and other facilities.
According to Dondurmacıoğlu, Aruba’s asset tracking system is an ideal fit for healthcare providers, retailers, and other businesses that regularly misplace expensive items like carts, pallets, and mobile medical devices. Though location tracking systems for items like those have been available for a while, most of them utilize dedicated network infrastructure and on-premises software requiring its own local servers.
“The pain points that we were hearing from our customers were not necessarily around their lack of understanding of automated asset tracking,” Dondurmacıoğlu says. “It’s just been really costly and hard to set up a separate infrastructure, separate software components, [and] separate configuration.” By drawing on access points those companies have already paid for and deployed, along with offsite software, Aruba’s solution eliminates those entry barriers.
Building the system around existing Aruba network hardware benefits channel partners as well, Dondurmacıoğlu continues, by allowing them to add a new service without acquiring new skills.
“We’re not asking them to deploy or manage or learn how to design separate infrastructure,” he says.
The system lets partners that interact mostly with IT buyers establish relationships with business decision makers as well.
“All of the sudden those same channel partners start creating value for the line of business, which clearly is getting a bigger portion of the technology investment budget than they used to before,” Dondurmacıoğlu observes.
Channel pros looking to develop marketable intellectual property can also use Meridian’s AppMaker development tool to create their own iOS and Android apps for the new asset tracking solution. A growing percentage of Aruba’s network-focused partner base sees software writing as a promising way to create new revenue streams and differentiate their services, Dondurmacıoğlu says.
Aruba’s new asset tags cost about $40 each, with discounts available for bulk purchases. Pricing for the hosted management application is based on the size of the facility customers will be using it in, and starts at $9,000 a year.
BLE-equipped Aruba access points, Dondurmacıoğlu notes, cost between $300 and $1,300 each, making them an appealing option more for the midsize portion of the SMB spectrum than small businesses.
Aruba will begin shipping its new tags and configuration app during the current quarter. The rest of the solution is available immediately.
HPE plans to make a host of additional product announcements at Discover, which runs through Thursday.
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