Aruba had quite a few different technologies and products on display at Wireless Field Day 2. The one I would like to focus on for this post is Aruba Instant. (Today I'll be sticking to a high-level review and saving my technical testing results for another post.)
Many people know Aruba as a hardware controller-based wireless solution. Instant moves away from a hardware controller and replaces it with a virtual controller that resides on the access points themselves. This allows for distributed forwarding, low cost controller redundancy, and elimination of feature licenses (thank you).
Here is a brief video demonstration I recorded showing the administrative interface:
There are several things I like about the new Instant architecture:
- The UI has been cleaned up considerably. It is much more intuitive and easy to navigate than the controller UI.
- No feature licensing.
- Cheap controller redundancy. When a number of IAPs are forming a single network, one of the APs acts as the virtual controller. If it fails, another one takes it's place.
- Auto-join. This feature allows you to add additional IAPs to the network and have them automatically pull the config of the existing virtual controller.
Life in an instant world isn't all roses. There are some things that I didn't like so much:
- Lack of granular QoS controls. For example, you have 3 choices of networks: employee, voice, and guest. Voice networks prioritize all traffic as voice instead of just actual voice traffic.
- OS Fingerprinting is available but only as an FYI. Currently, there is no way leverage this information to affect policy or access.
- Lack of alerting capabilities. While there is an alerts page, there is no way to natively generate email alerts for administrators. To accomplish this, you must use SNMP traps, syslog scrapes, or AirWave.
The only truly ugly thing is that the Instant UI hasn't been ported over to the hardware controller UI yet. (We've been informed that work on this is underway).
Instant is an interesting foray into the hardware controllerless arena by Aruba. The solution is easy to deploy and configure. While it looks like they've made a concerted effort to include as many important features as possible, they have clearly had to remove some functionality due to processing and memory limitations. In its current state, I see Instant fitting nicely into a smaller environment that doesn't have a large IT team or budget.
Disclosure: As a delegate of Wireless Field Day 2, I attended a presentation at Aruba Networks HQ where I received an evaluation IAP-135 and RAP-2. I am also currently employed by an Aruba Networks partner VAR.