Appreciating Aruba Networks’ Instant Mode

The last time I got hands-on familiar with Aruba’s wireless gear, the AP-125 was king of their lineup and the company didn’t have a switch offering. Like with my own Cisco network at the time, you were pretty much doing the thin AP thing with Aruba controllers, or you were doing another product set back in the day.

Like others in the biz, I have followed Aruba through the years both as an analyst and as a potential future customer. I went to an Airheads conference years ago, and got invited to others that I couldn’t make. I took note when Aruba released their switching line and became eligible for the Gartner Short-Sighted Quadrant, went to the company’s Sunnyvale HQ a couple of times for Wireless Field Day, and penned a number of articles on this blog and for Network Computing. Among them (but hardly inclusive):

Aruba Networks Swings Big At BYOD And More With ClearPass
Aruba Brings Layer 3 To Wireless Mesh Networks
Aruba’s 802.11ac Rollout Cleans Up Sticky Clients
Aruba Debuts Bare-Bones Cloud WLAN
Aruba Networks Knows The Value of Purchasing Well

I mention all this just to establish that I’m generally familiar with Aruba, but by no means “into” their hardware these days. Maybe this is why I’m so impressed with Aruba’s Instant AP Mode.  

For me, there have been a handful of “wow, this is excellent” moments of discovery through my own wireless career. Like when I used our Cisco MSE to alert on the MAC address of a stolen computer, which led to to the first of a number of solved crimes compliments of our Cisco WLAN logging capabilities. Then there was the 2-click ease of using Meraki MX appliances for site-to-site tunnels to extend my campus network to far away locations. And the AVC capabilities from Aerohive, that came my way before anyone else was doing it. I now count my getting to know Aruba’s Instant APs among those truly wondrous moments where the value of what you’re looking at shines at you, bright and immediately clear.

So what has impressed me about Aruba Instant? It’s all about the ease of setup, the completeness of the feature set, and the fact that you need no licenses, no cloud account, and no controller to derive immediate and impressive value. It’s the joy of old-school, stand-alone Wi-Fi from a simpler time, painted up nice with all of the aspects of modern feature-rich WLAN- and without the BS complexity that comes with most modern wireless systems. Granted, Aruba Instant is more suitable for smaller environments and branches, but it’s sooooooooo slick.

I’m playing with two IAP-225 802.11ac APs and an 802.11n RAP-3. These were given to me for attending Wireless Field Day and Keith Parson’s excellent WLAN Professionals Summit (all attendees received these).  There are so many ways you can operate these APs individually, or working together, that I can’t think of a set of enterprise or SMB operational parameters I couldn’t achieve with them. I’m loving the virtual controller capabilities, and have not seen a UI and accompanying documentation so polished and complete in quite a while. I feel almost like I’m getting away with something as I remind myself that I’m doing everything in these units with no NMS and and no cloud account. You have to set one up, then add another with zero config required, to really appreciate the magic here.

Here’s a slightly dated article from when Instant was introduced, and one of many YouTube videos introducing the product line and it’s ease of set up (this one from Streakwave Wireless).

Needless to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. Well done, Aruba Networks.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Appreciating Aruba Networks’ Instant Mode

  1. Pingback: Appreciating Aruba Networks’ Instant Mode

  2. apcsb

    Lee, you should really check out Motorola’s Virtual Controller feature: up to 24APs working together as if there was a controller, except that there isn’t (well, it is in one of the APs, but you don’t pay for that). Incredibly simplifies most small setups, and gives all the usual corrdinated RF management/roaming/etc bonuses.

    Reply
    1. wirednot Post author

      Thanks for the reply. I have played a bit with Moto APs- in front of me now I have an AP-6521 and AP-6522. I do like Motorola’s differentiators at times, and enjoy covering their Wi-Fi gear when I can because they do tend to have a fresh approach on a number of features. I know that UIs strike different people in different ways, and so this may be more my own issue than Motorola’s- I kind of stumble around in the Moto version of the Virtual Controller. Eventually I get where I need to go, but I don’t find it as intuitive as Aruba’s Instant. Regardless, I am sold on the viability of the Virtual Controller model as a way to get great value without the expensive trappings of “Big Wi-Fi”.

      -Lee

      Reply

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