HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G is Another Step in the Right Direction of Wi-Fi & 5G Convergence

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By Leo Gergs | 2Q 2024 | IN-7408

This ABI Insight discusses the early June 2024 announcement of the HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G solution. Based on this, the ABI Insight will analyze its relevance for the enterprise digitization and private cellular market, and conclude with some actionable recommendations for private cellular network providers and prospective enterprise digitization partners.

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HPE Announces HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G

NEWS


At the beginning of June 2024, HPE Aruba Networking announced the launch of HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G, a comprehensive solution aimed at simplifying the deployment and management of private 5G networks for enterprises. This new offering is designed to provide reliable wireless coverage on large campuses and in industrial environments. In this context, it is aimed at industries with hazardous environments and critical use cases (manufacturing, energy generation, and healthcare), as well as public venues and education. The goal of HPE Aruba Networking is to make private 5G as easy to deploy and manage as Wi-Fi, thereby opening new use cases and opportunities for enterprises and Communication Service Providers (CSPs)‚Äč. To provide an end-to-end platform to enterprises, the solution consists of a 4G/5G core, HPE ProLiant Gen11 servers, Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)/Embedded SIM (eSIM) cards, 4G/5G small cells, and a management dashboard. Furthermore, it will be characterized by a fully cloud-native management, Artificial Intelligence (AI) data integration, and zero-touch deployment and is designed to interoperate with the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the United States and similar shared spectrum bands globally by 2025.

With the announcement of HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise 5G, HPE concludes the integration of Athonet, which it had acquired in February 20203, and its cellular network capabilities into the existing Aruba enterprise networking brand. Aruba has been known as a strong digitization partner for enterprises (particularly their Information Technology (IT) departments), so this announcement holds great potential to bring private 5G capabilities even closer to enterprises through the massive existing channel that HPE has with its Aruba brand.

What Does This Announcement Actually Mean?

IMPACT


The announcement is interesting from a range of different angles. First, it shows that integrating an acquired company is a complex task and takes time. While voices within the industry expected a similar announcement toward the end of 2023 already, ABI Research has been wary of this from early on.

Second, it is the intention of HPE to combine what used to be the Athonet 5G core with its own HPE branded small cells. While HPE will work with a “trusted Original Design Manufacturers (ODM),” this still shows that its commitment toward cellular connectivity also extends to having the HPE brand associated with cellular network infrastructure, particularly the Radio Access Network (RAN).

Third, it is interesting to see that while HPE has managed to integrate 5G and Wi-Fi solutions into the same product portfolio, the convergence has not happened on the product level yet, underlining the immense complexity that it would take to fully converge those connectivity technologies within the same solution, and—arguably more important than that—simplify the management and operation of such a solution enough so that it generates interest and sufficient commercial traction within the IT departments of implementing enterprises. HPE has the existing channel to enterprises’ IT departments through its traditional Aruba offering. Combining it with 5G capabilities in a way that enterprise IT departments can manage will create a very powerful enterprise digitization platform for sure.

A Call to Action for Other Private Cellular Suppliers

RECOMMENDATIONS


Aside from the previous analysis, HPE’s announcement of HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G carries some very important recommendations for other players in the telecoms industry when it comes to targeting the enterprise connectivity opportunity. At the heart of it, it shows that—contrary to some messaging currently in the market—the future of enterprise wireless connectivity certainly lies in combining 5G and Wi-Fi capabilities to offer enterprises the best connectivity solution based on their use cases and requirements. To that end, any marketing activities that reinforce antiquated “Wi-Fi versus 5G” battle lines should be discontinued.

  • Focus on Customer-Centric Solutions: Instead of promoting one connectivity technology over another, service providers, infrastructure vendors, and System Integrators (SIs) should take this announcement as another motivator to adopt a pain point and use case-focused approach. Consequently, efforts should be devoted to developing tailored solutions that address specific customer needs across various industries.
  • Provide Solutions That Integrate with Existing Enterprise Infrastructure: Connectivity suppliers will have to put much more focus on integrating with existing enterprise digitization infrastructure. Specifically, vendors and service providers should ensure that the cellular network can work with a wide range of enterprise applications, IT systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In addition, providers should look at offering centralized management platforms that allow IT administrators to monitor and manage both existing and new network elements through a single interface.
  • Simplify the Management of the Connectivity Solution as Much as Possible: Ease of use is a critical factor for enterprise adoption, especially in complex network environments. Consequently, infrastructure vendors and connectivity providers should develop intuitive user interfaces (e.g., a Single Pane of Glass (SPOG) solution) and dashboards that simplify network management tasks, such as provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting. This can even incorporate AI and Machine Learning (ML) to automate network optimization, fault detection, and performance tuning, reducing the need for manual intervention.
  • Provide a Connectivity Solution That Includes Edge Computing and Cloud Computing: Cellular network providers should take this announcement from HPE as another sign that, for enterprises, connectivity is just part of an overall digitization initiative. Edge and cloud computing capabilities can greatly enhance the value proposition of your network solutions, as they enable processing large amounts of data to, for example, train Large Language Models (LLMs) or guarantee that critical enterprise data can remain on-premises.

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