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October 01, 2013

Aruba Networks Unveils Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi Solution

A significant part of the accelerating trend of many workplaces to transform themselves into truly “mobile enterprises” involves having the correct wireless infrastructure in place. This means deploying the right number of wireless local area networks (WLAN) access points needed to provide optimal geographic coverage, support traffic densities to provide great user experiences, assure business continuity should bad things happen, and do so in a secure manner. It is also about giving IT the tools necessary to manage what is an increasingly diverse environment, particularly for enterprises with multiple dispersed locations.    

WLAN provider Aruba Networks has unveiled a new cloud-managed Wi-Fi solution that, as Rajeev Shah, Product Management—Cloud Services for Aruba Networks, says, “combines the simplicity of a cloud service with the performance, manageability and reliability of enterprise-grade WLANs.”  

Comprehensive new solution

The Aruba cloud Wi-Fi solution combines quite a few valuable components, which include:

Aruba Central Cloud-Hosted Management: The new Aruba Central is a public, cloud subscription-based management service that gives organizations a single point of management for multiple sites and multiple Instant WLANs within sites.  It combines, zero-touch provisioning with rich management capabilities including central configuration and firmware management, remote monitoring and troubleshooting and detailed compliance records and historical data. This enables IT to manage their Aruba Instant networks wherever they are located. 

Source: Aruba Networks

In addition, Aruba is introducing its new eSupport site to give Aruba Central users free, online access to technical support, educational resources, tutorials and how-to guides, troubleshooting information and community support.

Two new access points (APs) have been added to the Instant AP portfolio.

Aruba Instant 155 AP: A 3-antenna/3-spatial stream access point for simple installation on desktops. With speeds of up to 450 Mbps and four Gigabit Ethernet ports with Power over Ethernet (PoE) for connecting peripherals, it is aimed at branch and remote offices.

The Instant 155 AP includes new Aruba Instant OS Version 3.3 software, which improves resiliency by keeping networks up and running even when one Internet connection fails. The new software provides dual Ethernet uplink support, 4G cellular uplink and flexible scheduling of image upgrades to improve network availability for end users.

Aruba Instant 220 Series Access Points: These APs are purpose-built for 802.11ac, resulting in time and cost savings for enterprises. Unlike modular 802.11ac APs, the Aruba 220 Series draw much less power, and also feature a power-efficient mode, so that enterprises can operate the APs at lower speeds with available 802.3af PoE power.

These APs include Aruba’s patented ClientMatch technology, which resolves the issue of “sticky clients” on 802.11ac and 802.11n Wi-Fi networks, wherein mobile devices have difficulty connecting to the best possible access point. ClientMatch dynamically optimizes Wi-Fi client performance by putting the Wi-Fi infrastructure in control of client connection and roaming decisions.

Aruba S1500 Mobility Access Switch: The latest addition to Aruba’s mobility access switch portfolio has been designed with a form factor and price point aimed at mid-sized networks.  Integrating with Aruba Instant WLANs, the switch provides POE for access points. It can automatically use VLAN information from Instant APs, and provide rogue AP containment when alerted by the Instant virtual controller.  In addition, the S1500 incorporates innovative power management and PoE prioritization for business-critical devices connected to the switch.  The S1500 offers 12-, 24- and 48-port options and four Gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

Aruba states, “Unlike previous generations of cloud solutions, the Aruba cloud Wi-Fi solution doesn’t sacrifice critical enterprise capabilities such as performance, resiliency and flexibility for simplified, cloud-hosted management.”  What it does do is really speed things along with Aruba saying organizations get up to 10x faster Wi-Fi connections than competitive cloud Wi-Fi solutions.

Other key benefits cited include:

  • Guaranteed wired and cellular uplink failover options
  • 100 percent survivability in the event of a WAN link failure
  • Choice of cloud subscription or on-premise management

In addition, the solution offers a WLAN that extends from corporate to branch and home, with a single architecture and single point of policy and management, eliminating a major pain point. 

Wi-Fi and the cloud are not normally mentioned in the same sentence, but in this instance the value of being able to site and manage wireless infrastructure using the cloud and literally covering all of an enterprise’s bases is appreciated.

 Aruba channel partner PacketLogix, Inc. is an active beta for the new Aruba Cloud Wi-Fi solution and Ben Russell, senior systems engineer for PacketLogix, commented, “By providing a simple way to manage networks virtually, Aruba’s cloud Wi-Fi solution solves several problems for our customers…Cloud-based management is an ideal IT solution for organizations that have multiple locations to support and limited resources to do so. There is no doubt that these customers can benefit from the conveniences and efficiencies of Aruba’s new cloud Wi-Fi solution.”

In discussing the release of all of this functionality with Aruba’s Shah, he commented that the way to understand the context for Wi-Fi management via the cloud is to, “Look at the three major pain points of Wi-Fi in the enterprise today. They are the failure of consumer-grad access points, full functionality being solely dependent on the WAN link which creates major survivability challenges, and the fact that there are different architectures for different sites.” 

He further noted that the reason for the comprehensive nature of this announcement was to “address all of those pain points and give IT the tools they need to have the visibility and control necessary to assure network resiliency, secure and the user experience, all backed up with a new way of doing support both online with Aruba and through the user community.”

Pricing and Availability

Along with the solution, Aruba announced pricing:

  • Aruba Central is available now and is priced at U.S. list $140 per access point, annually. 
  • Aruba Instant 155 is available now with pricing starting at $895. 
  • Instant 225 is available starting in October 2013 and prices begin at $1,295. 
  • The new Aruba Instant OS version 3.3 software is available now, free of charge for existing Aruba Instant customers.

The Aruba S1500 Mobility Access Switch 24- and 48- port models are available now and the 12-port model will be available in late 2013, with pricing starting at $1,595. For more information on Aruba’s cloud Wi-Fi solution, please visit http://cloud.arubanetworks.com.

About Aruba

Aruba Networks is a provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise. The company’s Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture unifies wired and wireless network infrastructures into one seamless access solution for corporate headquarters, mobile business professionals, remote workers and guests. This unified approach to access networks enables IT organizations and users to securely address the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, dramatically improving productivity and lowering capital and operational costs.

So it turns out that mentioning the cloud and Wi-Fi in the same sentence is not an anomaly. In fact, for enterprises of all sizes, particularly those with distributed workforces, the combination may a path worth exploring.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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