After walking the show floor and participating in several demonstrations, my take-away was that HPE does not appear to be making the best use of the Aruba product line and the Meridian software solution. I did not see many people using the HPE app, instead relying on old fashioned face-to-face communications on the show floor. This year, the first time I launched the HPE Discover app and attempted to use it, my phone powered off and rebooted. Needless to say, I was not eager to attempt to use the app again during the event.
I would like to have seen a big display of the location of devices on the show floor as an interactive portion of the general floor plans shown on the digital media signage on the show floor. It would have been interesting to use a touch screen interface to see the client devices, run reports on client types and client traffic utilization of the guest network as a way to showcase the Aruba wireless capabilities with Meridian. The last time I saw an impressive demonstration of the things capable with Aruba & Meridian was an Aruba Airheads conference shortly after the Meridian acquisition.
I found the small-cell partnership of Aruba Networks with Ericsson quite interesting. The Ericsson hardware is LTE & 3G, one unit is designed to be wall mounted and the Radio Dot is DAS only. AT&T and Verizon have deployed Radio Dot. As with the Cisco small cell solution, the products are getting hung up over the Service Provider approval. The big SPs are wary of giving any control over hardware procurement to any other hardware vendor.
Aruba had their lineup of new APs on display and the number and type of Ethernet ports on the access points got me to thinking. I'm dubious that the Access Point actually needs to have more than a Gigabit uplink any time soon, even if you can bond enough 5GHz channels together to offer more than a Gigabit in speed. First off, 160MHz wide channels will be a one off use case. It's not feasible to do a system wide deployment where all the access points are operating at 160MHz channels. Client devices can't achieve mondo speeds simply due to their spatial stream limitations, and the client devices that can hammer a wireless network - well, are they really hammering the network? Everyone I've spoken to in the industry says nobody (save one or two unique customers) is really hitting the maximum uplink speeds of an access point as an actual bottleneck. I get that some customers are future-proofing their networks, but by the time the client devices can beat down the multi-gigabit wifi deployed, it may already be time to refresh the access points that were deployed well ahead of the curve. Just my .02 cents.
The Aruba AP lineup lets you choose from from the AP 330 with one SmartRate (2.5GB) port, and one GB port, the 320 with two GB ports and the 310 with one GB port. The full feature comparison can be found here.
I'm grateful to HPE sending me to HPE Discover in Las Vegas. A great time was had by all! We all go the chance to learn about new offerings from HPE and have a little fun as well. Thanks Pegah!!