In recent years, rapid advances in technology coupled with expanding guest expectations have led to an increase in the number of hotels moving toward converged networks. These networks, which integrate data, video and voice into a single system, have many advantages, including increased visibility, enhanced performance, reduced costs and easier management.
Yet, network convergence is not without challenges, the biggest of which is how to safeguard the data. Although the joining of formerly disparate solutions facilitates information exchange and improves business efficiency, it also makes hotels more vulnerable to security threats. “When networks come together in a larger ecosystem, malicious attackers can access everything through a single entry point,” explained Graeme Kane, Aruba Hospitality BDM EMEA, a global leader in edge-to-cloud networking solutions. “This requires hotels to implement a strategy that goes well beyond traditional firewalls.”
Aruba’s groundbreaking Edge Services Platform (ESP) incorporates a state-of-the-art Zero Trust security model, which means that any device—whether inside or outside the organization’s network—is granted access to IT systems only when it is authenticated. Moreover, connected devices are continuously monitored and verified. According to Kane, a Zero Trust model is essential for guests as well as hotels. “Consumers are carrying more devices than ever when traveling,” he said. “Whether they’re attempting to engage hotel services with mobile phones, laptops, tablets or other technology, it’s critical that they have the proper connections.”
ESP’s security model also includes built-in automation that optimizes for efficiency based on changing business conditions. For example, when guests plug in devices (such as their laptops) or unplug devices (such as the guest room’s smart TV), Aruba’s patented dynamic segmentation kicks in to ensure that the network is protected. “With automation built into the security model, the hotel network becomes smart,” Kane explained. “Regardless of the devices that are plugged in to the various access points, the system automatically re-segments those connections back onto the correct parts of the network and applies the appropriate security policies.”
The Edge Services Platform is a highly scalable, cloud-native platform specifically designed to meet next-generation hotel needs. It combines information technology, operational technology and the internet of things (IoT) into a single open framework that can be leveraged by third-party devces, applications and services. In addition to utilizing Zero Trust security, the platform also incorporates artificial intelligence that identifies the root causes of problems and offers recommendations on what to change within a configuration to solve them. “There’s no guesswork,” Kane said. “Recommendations are provided only if we know with more than 95 percent confidence that a change will have the desired effect.”
As a result, hoteliers can operate with confidence, knowing they have the intelligence they need to preemptively resolve problems that might impact guest satisfaction and revenue. Moreover, ESP’s unified infrastructure brings together all switching operations, uniting wireless, wired and SD-WAN connections at a central point of command. This approach also gives customers a choice between on-premises or cloud-based controller services, delivering maximum flexibility at enterprise scale. What’s more, Aruba offers multiple financial services to help organizations accelerate digital transformation, preserve cash and move to ‘as a service’ consumption models.
As the hospitality industry emerges from the pandemic, most hotels are focusing on ways to drive new sources of revenue, and the Edge Services Platform is equipped to assist operators in expanding their businesses, including new digital marketing revenues and monetization of network data. Its fully integrated set of ecosystem partners is designed to drive better communication, deliver enhanced guest experiences and increase guest spend per stay.
For hotels considering network convergence, the Aruba Edge Services Platform is tailor made. “Its unified infrastructure, AI-powered software and Zero Trust security model ensure seamless guest experiences without compromising data safety,” Kane concluded. “Best of all, the platform allows hoteliers to focus on providing great service rather than worrying about whether all the devices on property are connecting properly and securely.”