Aruba Remote Access Points Review

Centralized authentication system means that we get the same experience regardless of login location


What is our primary use case?

We are a systems integrator in India where we work with multiple customers, understanding their requirements and proposing solutions.

Aruba Remote Access Points is deployed on a private cloud. There is a centralized controller and the APs are deployed at the remote location and have connectivity with the controller through the proprietary protocol from Aruba.

What is most valuable?

  • It's easy to manage.
  • The centralized authentication system makes it such that when you log in from a branch you get the same access as you get from any of the locations.
  • It provides good Spectrum Analysis and troubleshooting.
  • The distributed model and determining what Aruba is using are good. It provides the local internet break-out, directly from the AP.

What needs improvement?

It would help if the remote APs had some kind of SoHo environment with built-in firewall features. That way it could connect directly in a client-to-site type of environment, or a site-to-site VPN environment. That way users could have a complete office setup without coming to the private cloud. It could connect to the central site directly from the internet and get logged on to the controller.

I would also like to see a more open security consolidation. And the monitoring part should be in a single controller.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been working with wireless solutions for almost 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There is a major dependency on only once circuit reaching the controller. But the stability is there as long as the connectivity is up. If the connectivity goes down, only the stations that have already been established will work. New stations will not be connected. The gateway becomes the termination point for small offices and you can end up with something more reliable in comparison to the competitive vendors.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have contacted Aruba for RMA support and version upgrades. They are good. The L-1 support is okay but L-2 and L-3 support are good.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is straightforward. There's not much to it. The first level of configuration is key, but as soon as one center is up, it is very straightforward. You just upload the IP details and the LAN details and the APs start communicating.

The whole thing takes less than an hour. There is also the mounting and cabling that take time, but the configuration and testing of the scenarios hardly take half an hour.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing depends on the OEM, but everyone goes for a perpetual license or annual-renewal licensing. Renewal licenses costs depend on the vendor. Some charge 100 percent renewal on subscription, like Cisco. They have a support model which is a percentage of the cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We work with multiple solutions. On a gateway level we work with FortiGate and Cisco ASA. In switching infrastructure we work with Juniper, Cisco, and HP. For cloud WiFi solutions, we work with Cisco Meraki.

It depends on the requirements, like if the customer needs a VPN solution from their FortiGate or a Cisco ASA. All of them have different fortes depending on the requirements of the customer. If it's a pure VPN or a client-to-site VPN, Fortinet works as a good solution with a combination of a symmetric and an asymmetric approach. Cisco is also good for more active VPNs using AnyConnect, which makes use of pre-authentication of remote devices before logging in. That is something that is unique to Cisco. And the F5 solution can bind the machine, a feature that nobody else offers.

What other advice do I have?

With next-generation WiFi, everyone is talking about a hybrid scenario and the need to support cloud and controller-based access. Aruba is one of the products whose hardware supports both versions. But the hardware needs to be revamped when we compare the Meraki solution. Meraki's hardware architecture has the security built into the radio, whereas Aruba does not. So the features and configuration of Aruba are good, but there is a hardware revamp that needs to be developed.

I would rate Aruba Remote Access Points at eight out of 10. The cloud part is not as exciting as it is with Meraki.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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