Aruba Networks has unveiled a new virtual branch network (VBN) aimed at making it easier for remote and branch office workers to keep up to speed with their colleagues at headquarters.
The VBN is designed to act as a transparent virtual private network with the inclusion of extra features, while removing the necessity to replicate network services such as routing, switching and the firewall at each remote location, which can be difficult to maintain and manage.
The new platform consists of software for datacentre-based Aruba controllers, as well as three new families of wired and wireless remote access points (RAPs) and branch controllers.
The controllers running the new software can be used to virtualise the complex network services normally deployed at the remote office, thereby centralising them and making deployment cheaper and easier to control, according to Aruba.
A policy-based application is then used to control individual user access to network services, applications and resources depending on who they are, their location and how they are accessing the network.
"Virtualisation efforts to date have targeted PC desktop and datacentre applications, resulting in cost savings and security benefits that come from the centralised control and management of business-critical tasks," said Keerti Melkote, co-founder and chief technology officer at Aruba.
"These benefits have not accrued to remote site networking because existing vendors missed the virtualisation revolution and rely on a proliferation of subnets, ports and virtual local area networks to manage and control users."
Melkote claimed that the VBN architecture reduces the number of networks required, and the associated hardware, and "turns the remote networking model on its head" by "relying on a policy-based model to define how remote access, services, applications and resources are used".
The VBN relies on Aruba's distributed policy enforcement firewall, which provides a centralised way to manage and control policies, and firewall agents that enforce policies in the remote devices, the firm said.
Furthermore, the centralised nature of the VBN can reduce the amount of IT maintenance required at the branch offices.
"No truck roll, no help desk hassles," said Melkote. "VBN at last does for branch connectivity and security what datacentre virtualisation did for desktop applications."
At the entry level is the RAP-2 family which is aimed at teleworkers and small home offices with more than five users, and has a list price of $99 (£64).
Next up is the RAP-5 family which includes five high-speed Ethernet ports, a USB port for a broadband 3G cellular modem, hardware accelerated encryption and the option of 802.11n Wi-Fi with integrated antennas. This family is aimed at micro branches and has list price starting at $395 (£258).
The top of the new range is the 600 Branch Office Controller Family which is set for release in June starting at $1,495 (£977). It is aimed at branch offices with up to 256 users and provides wireless area network connectivity, Wi-Fi, network-attached storage, gigabit Ethernet, Power-over-Ethernet and various USB options.
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