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How to Advance Strategic Business Goals with IoT

By Michael Tennefoss, VP of IoT and Strategic Partnerships, Aruba

Whether it’s the allure of the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), a fear of being viewed as a laggard, or internal pressure to do something new, many companies rush head-first into IoT projects without clearly defined objectives or value propositions. The result is a high rate of failure, and subsequent disillusionment about the real value of IoT.

Deriving value from IoT

Originally intended to describe an ecosystem of interconnected machines, IoT is often taken to mean connecting all devices to the Internet.  However, the value of IoT doesn’t come from connecting every device to the Internet. IoT devices, and the networks that connect them, are vessels for data and contextual information like location and identity.

At Aruba we call the conjunction of IoT data and context “hyper-awareness,” and it provides situational awareness about efficiency, productivity, reliability, loyalty, safety, and security.  IoT projects should be focused on creating hyper-awareness in service to a company’s strategic business goals, and identifying what data and context are relevant to achieving those goals.

Supporting corporate strategic imperatives with IoT

Strategic goals differ across vertical markets, and often within them, too. Areas that have been top of mind in the smart building market include:

  • human productivity monitoring
  • human productivity organizational redesign
  • augmented reality
  • energy monitoring
  • and building security. (1)

Prioritizing human productivity centers means creating cognitively-aware digital spaces, and using IoT to change the way in which machines and humans interact to make people more productive, and safer, in those spaces.  Organizational redesign is intended to maximize the value of human capital. Commercial real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle (2) observed that, in general real, estate tenants spend roughly $3 per square foot (0.092 per square meter) per year for utilities, $30 for rent, and $300 per for payroll. This “3-30-300” rule of thumb shows the leverage that comes from making the people on the payroll more productive and efficient.

Augmented reality includes tools to simulate environments and situations to improve service, create digital twins for proactive maintenance and improved processes. Energy monitoring optimizes energy usage based on comfort, location, and activity. Building security includes all manner of sensors, indoors and out, as well as video surveillance and analytics.

IoT can support broader organizational initiatives such as human productivity and safety measures, energy monitoring, and building security.

In every case these solutions require IoT data and contextual information for, among others, presence detection, room occupancy sensing, space analytics, location detection, asserting identity, sensing applications in use, hoteling space status, air quality monitoring, lighting control, and security monitoring. These data need to be securely conveyed and actively protected against attacks using a Zero Trust framework. The devices need to be managed, data and context need to be processed, and applications run and monitored for performance.

Adapting to evolving business requirements

Since smart facility requirements change over time, ideally these functions and services will run on an extensible platform that can adapt to future demands without ripping and replacing infrastructure. By securely interfacing IoT devices, and generating contextual information, Aruba’s Edge Services Platform (ESP) enables business operations and facility applications to become hyper-aware of their operating environments. ESP’s unified infrastructure, Zero Trust security, and AI-powered software—used in conjunction with solutions from key technology partners—enable enterprises to successfully and economically deploy and exploit IoT solutions. The richer the set of available data and context, the greater the opportunities to boost efficiency, productivity, profitability, reliability, safety, and security.

Making IoT data transport, protection, and analysis simple

How IoT data are processed and integrated with business processes or digital twin models is typically left as an exercise for end customers. The Aruba IoT Transport for Microsoft Azure addresses this issue by securely connecting IoT devices with the Azure IoT Hub for monitoring, controlling, and analyzing IoT systems and digital twin enablement. Aruba access points—Instant and controller-based—act as virtual IoT gateways, wirelessly connecting to IoT devices, establishing secure connections with the Azure IoT Hub, and bidirectionally streaming IoT data through the secure tunnels. JSON data are automatically converted for consumption by the Azure IoT Hub, which in turn makes them available to Azure IoT applications and services or custom applications.

Aruba Wi-Fi 6 access points support multiple IoT technologies, and once loaded with the IoT Transport for Azure, become virtual gateways to the Azure IoT Hub. This design significantly simplifies the secure, bidirectional transfer of data between edge IoT devices and Azure IoT using existing Aruba IT infrastructure as the linkage between the two. Customers are freed from the expense of hiring integrators to create a useable network connection for them, or crafting their own edge-to-cloud solution.

Since IoT devices communicate with Aruba access points, and Aruba access points communicate with the Azure IoT Hub, no intermediate IoT hardware gateway is required. High-performance Aruba SD-WAN solutions also make it easy to securely transport data from IoT devices from any campus or branch site within the enterprise to the Azure cloud. Comprehensive connectivity means new IoT use cases can be easily handled without the need to rip-and-replace edge infrastructure. Simply on-board the new IoT devices and activate the required Azure IoT application. Customers can select from over 190 Azure IoT-related applications or use their own apps to analyze and act upon the data generated from the devices. The Aruba IoT Transport for Azure is delivered as a service in ArubaOS 8.8, and is also available as a software shim for customers using ArubaOS 8.7.

If your company’s strategic goals require human productivity monitoring, human productivity organizational redesign, augmented reality, energy monitoring, and/or building security, Aruba’s ESP and IoT Transport for Azure can expedite time-to-insight and time-to-value. The solutions can securely handle all manner of IoT devices and integrate them with enterprise business applications and processes. Deployment time is fraction of what a custom-developed solution would require.

Learn more about Aruba solutions for Microsoft.


(1) McKinsey Global Institute, Unlocking The Potential Of The Internet of Things, June 2015

(2) Jones, Lang, LaSalle, A surprising way to cut real estate costs,, 16 September 2016