Aruba’s largest annual conference, Aruba Atmosphere, wrapped up just a few weeks ago. The purpose of the conference is to bring together Aruba partners and customers alike to share all the latest wireless technologies from Aruba as well as new ways in which customers are using Aruba technology. They had the great judgment to hold the conference at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas – they know how to do it right!
Seeing as how InterWorks is an avid Aruba partner, there was no way we weren’t going to send a few people to attend. I “grudgingly volunteered” to attend along with Keith Johnson and William Herron. But really, there’s no denying we had a great time, and these past few weeks have given us time to gather some conference highlights together for a nice little recap.
Big News in the Keynotes
This year’s keynote speeches covered a few big points, but the biggest was no doubt HP buying Aruba the day before. Aruba CEO Dominic Orr and HP CEO Meg Whitman elaborated on what the new partnership meant for everyone, especially partners. They explained that being backed by one of the most successful technology companies will only help to strengthen Aruba’s position in the marketplace, giving them more resources to keep producing top-tier wireless technology. In turn, this will give partners and clients more possibilities.
Above: A packed house for the keynotes.
The second big announcement was the unveiling of their new wireless AC Wave 2 technology on the Day 2 keynote by Aruba CTO Keerti Melkote. It’s the latest wireless standard available, making Aruba technology even more dynamic. Aruba also covered their new Aruba Beacons. This technology allows users to connect to wireless access points through, say, a mobile application using Bluetooth. They used a shopping mall as a use case. In their example, users could come to the property, which would likely be very large, connect to a beacon using an app, and then receive step-by-step directions via GPS or relevant coupons depending on what stores they pass. Essentially, beacons allow for a much more interactive wireless experience.
Breakout Sessions – Divide and Conquer
When you go to a conference the size of Aruba Atmosphere, there’s simply no way that you’ll be able to do it all. Many sessions run concurrently next to one another, which means you’re going to have make some decisions. Fortunately, there were three of us, so we decided to split up and attend different sessions. At the end of the day, we could regroup and go over what we learned at each session. Also, we were all rooming together, so any time apart was welcome. Just kidding.
Above: All of us stopping for a pic.
Now, these sessions range from high-level use cases to in-depth technical overviews. We each attended a good mix of each, but for the sake of time, we’ll recap the sessions that stood out the most.
Trey – Designing WiFi Networks for High Capacity
This session touched on one of the biggest challenges in wireless – creating a network for numerous, resource-heavy users. It focused on how to effectively handle a network that had 100 or more people per access point, something that can be incredibly tricky, especially since the strain on wireless isn’t decreasing anytime soon. Some good strategies were shared here that can definitely be used for some of our clients.
Keith – Tech Support Troubleshooting and Wireless LAN Design
This was a really interesting scenario-based session in which attendees had to use their expertise to design an efficient wireless solution. Everyone started with a blank floor plan. From there, they had to take measurements, determine who will be using the wireless network, how many devices will be in use, how many applications will be in use and in what range they would be used (typically ranging 2.4 – 5GB). This was a fun departure from the normal “sit and listen” type of sessions. Hands-on is the way to go.
William – Aruba Beacons and Meridian Software
This was a thoroughly impressive session. To give some context, Atmosphere used Aruba Beacons and mapping software from Meridian to provide virtual directions to and from sessions using your mobile device and the conference app (much like the example mentioned in the keynote). During this session, Nicholas Newton, Director of Sales at Aruba, demonstrated how those beacons could have their sensitivity adjusted to a broad range for general vicinity devices to very precise locations (within 3 ft.). This technology could definitely be beneficial for clients across a number of different industries.
When you go to a conference in Vegas, you better believe that the after parties are a sight to see. Cenex and ScanSource, both Aruba partners, held some great ones! There was also a huge outdoor party at the Cosmopolitan’s pool area with a live cover band, firebreathers, twirlers – you know, everything you imagine there being in Vegas. The cherry on top was Dana Carvey doing an hour-long comedy sketch before the pool party. Excellent!
Aside from the parties, we had the chance to meet a lot of other interesting Aruba partners like Brocade and TE Electric. It’s always cool to see what others are doing in the wireless game. Oh yeah, and on a different note, we walked down to the “Pawn Stars” store to check out their inventory!
The Big Takeaway
Going to a conference might sound like a bunch of fun (and it is), but there’s a reason we go to stuff like this. The biggest takeaway we got from this conference in particular was a stronger relationship with Aruba as well as the ability to better help our clients. We gained deeper knowledge of Aruba’s product line and the potential they have for improving our clients’ wireless networks. Long story short, it gives us more knowledge and tools to put at their disposal. Until next year, I leave you with this great recap video (in which yours truly is featured):