A 2017 BusinessWire report stated that IT spending among Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMB) would approach just over $600 billion, with an annual increase of approximately 5% through the year 2021. With wireless networking being one of the hottest buys within the SMB space lately, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that that is a lot of $ that current enterprise WLAN vendors would love to cash in on.
Aruba Instant On Product Highlights:
- Available via Aruba distributors & online via Amazon and other e-tailers
- Simple setup with Cloud/App management from anywhere in the world
- Indoor, Outdoor, Desktop/Hospitality form factor Access Points
- No annual subscription cost
- Multi-site management
- Included 90 days support via phone & chat for 1 yr & online community.
- Purpose built for SMB and other markets with < 100 users
- Starting price around $100 USD
With that in mind, Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company recently released a new product lineup targeted at the SMB market that is designed to provide enterprise grade wireless at a very attractive and affordable SMB price point. With the Aruba Instant On products starting around $100 per AP and no annual subscription cost, SMB now have the ability to provide amazing wireless at a fraction of the cost. For those of you familiar with the Aruba portfolio, this is not to be confused with the existing enterprise level Instant products. Rather, Aruba has taken what can be a cumbersome and complicated task of deploying enterprise grade Wi-Fi, and repackaged it in a way that users at any level of technological experience can deploy in mere minutes! Impressive right? Let’s dive in and take a look at what this new Instant On product line has to offer.
As you can see from the image above, Aruba has put a good deal of work into providing a portfolio of products that address not only indoor spaces with the AP 11 (2×2), AP 12 (3×3), & AP 15 (4×4), but also the desktop/hospitality (AP 11D) and outdoor (AP 17) spaces as well.
Along with the APs, comes purpose built software to help manage all of your devices via an attractive web based portal or via the Aruba Instant On app available for iOS & Android. The app is critical in helping speed the deployment of the solution along as it literally only takes a few minutes once the APs are powered up and connected to the internet for someone to be able fully deploy their new wireless network. How easy is it you ask? Let’s take a look.
Aruba was kind enough to provide me with a demo unit for the AP11D hospitality hardware for evaluation. As you can see here, everything you could possibly need to deploy the AP is included in the package. The AP11D comes with a wallplate bracket/screws, desktop stand, ethernet cable, and manuals. Also, included was a handy card showing just how simple it is to get the product up and running quickly.
For those new to the Instant On product, you will first need to create an account via the app or the cloud based management site and verify your email address. Once those steps are completed, you are ready to start adding AP to your account.
In order to handle customers with multiple geographically distributed locations, the product allows you to create multiple sites that can all maintain separate settings. Within each site, one can broadcast up to 8 different SSIDs and create a cluster up to 25 AP in size. This includes any mesh points that are part of the network. (Did we say mesh? Yes we did. The product can intelligently form a mesh network to allow even more flexibility in the deployment to ensure that every inch (or centimeter) of your location is covered with Aruba wireless.) Once you have created your account and at least one site, you can start adding APs. When the APs initially startup, they are discoverable via BLE from your phone, but if you happen to not be onsite there is also a manual device entry option as well.
So just how easy is it to create/add a network to the product? As you can see in the images above, with just a couple of taps and a small amount of information (such as the network name and password) the network is up running. While it seems that this has taken a while, it’s only because I wanted to include a lot of images to help you through the process. Even though help really isn’t needed lol. The product even supports the newest wireless security measure of WPA3, proving that Aruba really has gone the extra mile to create a great product without sacrificing the security of your users data. You even have the ability to create a guest captive portal, or use enterprise grade security via 802.1X & RADIUS credentials within the product.
Once you have devices added, you can quickly see the status of your network by taking a quick glance at the app homepage. There you will find the amount of data transferred in the last 24 hours, along with how many active networks, clients, & devices you have online. This makes it extremely easy to always know what the status of your network is, without having to call someone at each site you may have. There is also a site health tab and the ability to drill down into individual clients that can give you even more in depth information about what’s going on with your network.
The included cloud based management also provides the same abilities as the App, including even more in depth information as to what exactly your clients are doing via the application usage feature.
I look forward to using this product for a bit and I’ll let you know how I think it stacks up. I could see this as being a great prosumer solution as well for those that want exceptional wifi within their home at a reasonable price point as well.