Aruba unveils new cloud-based Wi-Fi and beacon management solution

New Aruba sensors, beacon analytics and app developer partner programme are designed to empower IT organisations to quickly support IoT initiatives and work with developers to provide customised apps

Aruba unveils new cloud-based Wi-Fi and beacon management solution

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company has launched a cloud-based beacon management solution designed for multivendor Wi-Fi networks and beacon analytics. The company sees this as part of the next wave of its Aruba Mobile Engagement solution.

Aruba launched its Beacons platform last year with the aim of enabling organisations to deliver customised push notifications and precise internal and external navigation to user’s mobile devices.

What’s been added now is a new Wi-Fi and BLE-enabled sensor that can be added to any electronic device, allowing companies to kick-off IoT incentives - and an analytics platform to properly measure user engagement dwell time – which gives a good indication of how physical ads are performing, for example.

At the same time, Aruba is also expanding its developer platform to try and create more location-based apps. It is going to allow independent vendors (ISVs) and custom agencies (CADAs) to work on its Meridian Mobile App Platform, with a view to creating purpose-built, easy-to-implement enterprise mobility apps that improve efficiencies and productivity for a variety of organizations.

Aruba reports that since its introduction in November 2014, Aruba Mobile Engagement, powered by Aruba Beacons and the Meridian Mobile App platform, has improved customer satisfaction in such diverse organisations as Levi’s Stadium and Orlando International Airport.

By directly interacting with customers via their mobile devices based on the customers’ in-venue location and their personalised preferences, Aruba Mobile Engagement is designed to enhance customer experiences and revenue opportunities for the venue operators.

The new beacons
Deployments are growing larger in scale, increasing IT management complexity and challenges. The new Aruba Sensor is designed to dramatically reduce this IT overhead, making it easy to manage all beacons from a single location. Aruba estimates approximately 48 hours of time savings in a 1,000 beacon deployment during a single maintenance window.

The new enterprise-grade Internet of Things (IoT) Aruba Sensor combines a small, Wi-Fi client and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) radio for organisations to remotely manage beacons across existing multi-vendor Wi-Fi networks from a central location.

For IT departments, this means easier and significantly more cost-efficient management and monitoring of beacon data including battery life, power settings and software updates.

Orlando International Airport
Orlando International Airport (MCO) which hosts nearly 38 million travellers annually, implemented Aruba’s Mobile Engagement solution in late 2014 (pictured above) and has since seen over 26,000 downloads of its MCO mobile app.

“The 1200+ Aruba Beacons deployed throughout our terminals have allowed us to provide travellers with indoor navigation to airline check-in, gates, baggage claim and hundreds of other locations including elevators and restrooms,” said John Newsome, Director of Information Technology for Greater Orlando Airport Authority.

“Our mobile app not only provides navigation and important airport and flight-related information, it also helps drive sales for our concessionaires and retailers by providing both their location as well as links to their own websites for more in-depth information on their offerings such as menus for our restaurants.”

He added: “Since so many travellers now rely on mobile apps, the accuracy and reliability of the information we’re delivering is paramount. Today, to ensure this accuracy, our IT staff must monitor the beacons manually which is burdensome for such an extensive deployment. Using the new Aruba Sensors, however, we’ll be able to manage our beacons remotely, saving valuable time and IT resources.”

Measuring with beacon analytics
The projected increase for IoT deployments and demand for business-focused mobile apps, make seamless interactions between mobile apps and IoT crucial, Aruba believes. Knowing who is connected, their location and the type of device they are using are all powerful tools for enabling these interactions.

To deliver business operations leaders this visibility, Aruba said it has also introduced beacon analytics to measure user engagement, including aggregated results on navigation metrics, location-based triggers and dwell time.

While businesses benefit from the information beacon analytics provide, users can rest assured that their privacy is protected, since beacon analytics are inherently more privacy-friendly than alternative approaches. With beacon analytics, users must download an app for a participating business and agree to share their location before any information is divulged.

App Developer Partnership Programme
Because Aruba Meridian is designed to power an unlimited number of location-based applications, for business and marketing leaders, the only barriers to entry are the creativity of mobile app development partners and a strong partnership with IT.

To remove these obstacles and accelerate the development of new mobile apps, Aruba’s partner programme will now allow both Independent Software Vendors (ISV) and Custom App Development Agencies (CADA) to leverage the Meridian Mobile App Platform quickly and easily.

Aruba ISV partners focus on creating purpose-built, easy-to-implement enterprise mobility apps that improve efficiencies and productivity for a variety of organisations.

Integrated mobile engagement for venues
VenueNext, a technology platform company that seamlessly integrates everything a venue offers into one mobile interface, has already integrated Aruba Mobile Engagement into app solutions for: Levi’s Stadium, Home of the San Francisco 49ers; Amway Center, Home of the Orlando Magic; Yankee Stadium, Home of the New York Yankees; and AT&T Stadium, Home of the Dallas Cowboys’ venues in the past year, with others in development.

As part of Aruba’s new partner programme, VenueNext will integrate Aruba’s mobile engagement solution into its platform for venue customer requirements in the sports and entertainment, hospitality, healthcare and transportation markets.

“Our approach is to unify the whole ecosystem of a large venue, both technologically and logistically, with a view towards giving guests and visitors a mobile seamless interface to every amenity that venue has to offer,” said John Paul, CEO and founder of VenueNext.

“Aruba is an important technological partner in making an unprecedented experience like this happen with our customers. When you combine location services and way-finding with other offerings like Food, Beverage and Merchandise delivery, guests have a magical experience and venue owners have more loyal and engaged visitors who have a higher propensity to return and spend more,” said Paul.

Streamlining conference room bookings
Aruba has also worked with software partner Robin to deliver an intelligent, centralised conference room booking app that lets enterprises simplify meeting scheduling to improve office productivity.

Robin-powered conference rooms use location information to automatically update attendees’ calendars and use real-time presence information to update meeting rooms based on who is actually inside them, rather than what’s listed on the schedule. Using Robin helps enterprises eliminate double bookings, outdated meetings, and the difficulty of locating conference rooms.

“Our booking system, combined with the Meridian Mobile App platform, provides a complete solution with visibility into meeting room availability, their amenities, and the location and directions,” said Sam Dunn, CEO, Robin. “Together we’re helping people find the right tools, at the right time, so they can do better work.”

Creating meaningful user experiences
For customers with unique mobile app requirements, Aruba has partnerships with CADA partners that can build tailor-made apps based on a customers’ unique requirements.

Forge Media + Design is a user experience (UX) design and app development agency that focuses on elevating customers’ environments through outstanding user experience. “Partnering with Aruba allows us to push the envelope for how technology interacts with people in architectural spaces,” said Gregory Neely, founding principal, Forge Media + Design.

“The Aruba Meridian App Platform provides us with a powerful tool that allows us to craft functionally beautiful apps for organisations to engage with their customers and effectively communicate to build lasting loyalty."

Forge and Aruba are currently working together on a large scale app project that will encompass over three million square feet of a major hospital, which is expected to launch in Spring 2016.

Classroom management solutions
Silicon Valley-based, custom-app development agency Impekable is partnering with Aruba to deliver additional app value to its customers. “Becoming a partner allows us to cross-pollinate with Aruba Meridian to design advanced indoor location-based apps,” said Pek Pongpaet, managing partner at Impekable.

“A great example of this is our concept Aruba Classroom app which allows teachers to automate attendance-taking in a classroom and other time-consuming tasks that take away from teaching and learning.”

Wider HPE services
Aruba pointed out that as larger scale IoT deployments emerge the complexity increases. Here it can draw on its new owner HPE’s multivendor integration expertise to reduce risk and implementation time to enable business intelligence, customer experience and additional revenue opportunities powered by Aruba Mobile Engagement.

HPE services can also help to bring together key elements in an IoT solution, including strategy, assessment, design, deployment, integration and optimisation of Aruba WLAN and Mobile Engagement solutions.

Pricing and availability
The Aruba Sensor AS-100 is available to order on 2 December 2015 starting at $195, US list.

See also: Aruba Networks targets a Cloud first, mobile first approach to networking

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