HPE Aruba Networking looks to simplify private 5G networks – SDxCentral

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is tackling one of the biggest hurdles facing widespread enterprise adoption of private 5G networks — complexity.

The company today unveiled HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G, a new solution that simplifies and streamlines the deployment and management of private cellular networks. The integrated 4G/5G offering is designed to augment HPE Aruba’s traditional Wi-Fi networking products for enterprises looking to leverage the benefits of private cellular networks. The HPE Aruba Enterprise Private 5G provides an end-to-end private cellular networking solution, including 4G/5G core network servers, SIM cards, small cell radios, management systems and the integration to make it consumable for enterprises already using Aruba Wi-Fi.

“The thread that runs through all this for us has been really simplification and unification so that we can provide a scalable product in markets that we already serve with Wi-Fi,” Stuart Strickland, wireless CTO at HPE Aruba Networking told SDxCentral. “ I wouldn’t describe us as 5G evangelists who got on that train early and are out trying to persuade people that they need it, but rather, we’ve come to the problem based on feedback we’ve gotten from our customers over the years of some things that they wish their existing networks could do.”

Integrated management to unify client Experience

A key focus is on integrating the management of the private 5G infrastructure with HPE Aruba’s Wi-Fi management to provide a unified client experience when roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular. This includes aligned identities, quality of service policies and access to resources.

“The first step of that is really to align the identities of the devices,” Strickland commented.

Strickland explained that the goal is that for every private device that’s capable of both Wi-Fi and cellular, rather than having a separate corporate Wi-Fi certificate and then a SIM card will instead use the SIM identity as the primary identity. He said that HPE Aruba Networking will  use the Wi-Fi PassPoint technology to onboard devices to the Wi-Fi network.

The integration will take some time until it reaches the ultimate vision that Strickland has for the technology. To be clear he noted that initially the cellular management system and the HPE Aruba Central management system are separate, though both are in the cloud. He did emphasize the interfaces will look similar and there will be some communication between the two management systems.

The next step for the technology will be to integrate it all into a single management framework for both cellular and Wi-Fi.

“At that point, all of the analytics tools, all of the security tools and all the SD-WAN stuff that are a part of the existing HPE network offerings will be inherited by the cellular system as well,” Strickland said.

Shared spectrum for private enterprise use

HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G is interoperable with shared spectrum for private enterprise use, including CBRS spectrum in the US and globally, where regulatory frameworks allow.

The use cases for private 5G working alongside Wi-Fi are many and varied. Strickland said that some organizations want more area coverage while others want more determinism in the network scheduling. He noted that HPE also has customers that have a substantial public facing component of their network, for example a large public venue or a hospital or university campus that they’re trying to balance with backup  business critical operations and they want to have a separate, isolated, segregated network that is protected from the public traffic, but they don’t want it isolated and segregated in the sense of a siloed separate thing that they have to manage separately.

“There’s a significant subset of our customers who would like to augment their networks,” Strickland said.

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