Aruba Instant Access Points
Years ago, the concept of purchasing and deploying enterprise grade wireless infrastructure was reserved for only the largest or wealthiest companies. The average small to mid-sized businesses were left to make compromises on features and performance because of the prohibitive price and deployment complexity associated with wireless infrastructure. Well no more.
Aruba Instant access points allow any business to deploy a full featured and scalable solution anywhere. Without compromising features often reserved for the most cost prohibitive solution. Aruba Instant has a place in the hair salon all the way to the corporate office. If you need a solid and secure wireless solution that doesn’t require a full-time worker to administer, than look no further.
What is Aruba Instant?
Aruba Instant is a wireless access point operating system and platform that does not require the purchase of hardware/virtual controllers for deployment. Instead Aruba instant access points leverage each other as virtual controllers. They work in a cluster like the standard campus deployment most are familiar with.
For small to mid-sized businesses, the most common deployment of wireless is less than 100 access points. This is fully supported by the Aruba instant deployment model. Not only does the deployment scale in size but it is innately redundant.
Each access point can act as the primary virtual controller if the current controller goes down. Furthermore, the access points come in a wide variety of models. Some support the newest Enterprise features such as 802.11ax, WPA3, and M-PSK.
Where is the value?
Almost all the current generation Aruba access points are sold as a unified AP. This deploys in an Instant cluster or as a campus AP controlled by dedicated controllers. By shipping a single image on all access points, Aruba has made the product fit all use-cases. It has simplified the ordering and provisioning of the product.
Additionally, if a customer does outgrow the instant AP deployment model, they can simply convert their existing access points to work with a controller-based solution. Never losing a penny on their existing investment. This use-case happens frequently. Aruba customers are always thankful to know that they haven’t thrown money down the drain as their business grow and they need to expand the reach of wireless connectivity.
Aruba Instant Tour
I will spend some time showcasing the features and simplicity of the Aruba Instant operating system. There are numerous guides online showing how to configure the APs in greater detail. I will give a brief overview of some of the included features.
There is also a community driven YouTube channel dedicated to the education of customers and partners called: Airheads Broadcasting Channel. This tour is meant for someone with 1-2 years of IT experience. Wired and wireless networking concepts will be used without explanation.
The virtual controller is accessed through a web interface that is very similar to logging into a traditional Aruba Mobility controller. There are default credentials which are publicly available for the initial login.
The dashboard presented after the user logs in is very helpful. It will show everything from active wireless networks, cluster members, connected clients, and performance and health statistics.
Again, keep in mind that using this deployment model is free. There are no additional licenses or support fees to use the Aruba Instant operating system. All Aruba access points come with a lifetime warranty that include software/firmware upgrades.
The Aruba Instant operating system supports features like:
- Guest network with custom captive portal
- Radius authentication with COA
- Stateful firewall policies
- Internal guest provisioning for guest network
Another feature that is surprising to see on this platform is AppRF. It differentiates what applications are in use on the network. It is of great value to administrators and engineers to be able to identify unwanted applications on the network and apply QOS policies to either limit or block them entirely.
Third Party Integrations
Unlike other platforms that limit features in their respective introductory platform, Aruba supports third party integrations with firewall vendors, and even custom XML API services. Features that leverage location-based services are available using the Aruba Instant platform.
Overall, the platform is feature rich. It can do almost everything a traditional controller-based platform can do. The shear scalability of having the access points act as the controller grants a flexibility many in the industry have been looking for.
Small to mid-sized businesses should explore the possibilities of what the Aruba Instant platform can offer. A budget friendly option to consider for your networking needs.
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