Aruba Switches Review

Integrates well with ClearPass, is stable and has excellent technical support

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for extra switches on campuses and consecutive exchange of existing access switches. 

How has it helped my organization?

The zero-touch provisioning made it possible for electricians to install and wire the switches that allows for the continuation with the zero touch provisioning mechanism afterward. It has really helped us to save our manpower within the network support group.

What is most valuable?

The solution's most valuable aspect is that it integrates with ClearPass, which allows us to use the same management for wireless LAN and wired LAN. 

What needs improvement?

The written documentation, all the available documentation, is often a little bit hard to find. The solution lacks documentation of recent features. We have access directly to Aruba, Germany, so they are always helpful, but if you start, for instance, with something a little bit more complex like zero-touch provisioning, that would require a more comprehensive written piece. 

The available REST API is invaluable for elegant integration with the core and distribution network.  

There are some new multicast features coming up, but they are just in the process of preparation by IEEE, and I would like to see them as soon as possible.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for a few months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution's stability is really great. We found it very solid. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution is good. With the management of ClearPass, it's great. We've been using the feature of building stacks with it, and its really, really easy to handle a large scale environment.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been great. Together with the consultant, we set up a regular phone call with Aruba to discuss the issues surrounding setting up the whole system. They always came up with quick solutions, called us back and they've been really, really helpful overall.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used Brocade. The switches portion of the organization was bought by Extreme Networks. The company broke down, which is why we had to switch. The hardware of Brocade was brilliant, but at some point, the development and the stability of firmware lacked, since developers may have moved on before the company broke down.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is mostly straightforward. Deployment, together with the WiFi, took about a month. We had three people on our side assisting with the implementation and have three people currently handling maintenance.

What about the implementation team?

We did the initial set up with the help of a service provider of Aruba. We wrote templates and did the first template with the service provider, who was experienced and was really helpful.

With their assistance, the experience was optimal. We had been really late with our decision to purchase Aruba and we, with the help of the consultants, have since been able to bring up the whole system in time so that the existing schedule for opening the hospital was never endangered. 

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

We just had all the licenses for five years included in the bidding process. Since the competitive nature of the resulting contract, our actual costs might not reflect the standard market prices. Due to the visibilityof our project, Aruba has been generous with the included amount of licenses, which will serve us for years to come.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As a public hospital we are obliged to implement a public bidding process. We had been in discussions with many companies, including, for example, Cisco. 

In the end, it came down to financial issues. Once you have your requirements fixed, every Vendor has the chance to give you a proper offer through ist sales channel. With all the requirements, including for example common management of wired and wireless access, WLAN integrated Bluetooth capabilities  Cisco failed to meet the offer of Aruba.

What other advice do I have?

We've been implementing, with the help of Aruba, with zero-touch provisioning in a newly opened hospital. Roughly 450 switches have been put into operation using zero-touch provisioning (ZTP). It was challenging;  even Aruba probably hadn't done such a large scale project before using ZTP.

In terms of advice, I'd say if you are entering the next stage of switch hardware, of network hardware, just have a look at Aruba. It's really, really helpful having an open API to use Python or other script languages to modify configurations and to automate exchange of state changes with neighbouring structures.

We try to keep as close as possible to standards. There are some areas where standards aren't available, for instance stacking of network Access switches, whre no vendor-independent standards is existing yet. So look at the whole package including the switch hardware, the licenses, the license for management and bear in mind the transceivers. 

When using Aruba switches, stick with the automation tools, don't let yourself be seduced into going back to manual configuration.

I'd rate the solution nine out of ten. They would be perfect, but there's a noise once they are on under heavy load in a warm environment. It might be the case that they are not usable for installations where the loudness damping between the installation room and office is not sufficient.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

HPE Aruba 2930M (JL322A)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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