If you are considering wireless access solutions, this is a common question that you are probably asking. You probably have sales people knocking at your door. How do you make sense of all the stories that you are presented with. If you have done any research, you are aware that Cisco and Aruba are the two top names in the wireless access space. This brief posting should give you some insight.
Cisco is the undisputed leader in the wireless access market, according to Gartner Research. This leadership number is comprised of four different product lines that are a result of four product acquisitions. Thus, when you are evaluating Cisco, the question is, which product line? When a company has this many product lines, it makes the upgrade path confusing, since there are incompatibilities. There is also the question of which products may eventually be dropped. These product lines are not consistent with user interfaces, policy enforcement, RF patterns, etc. For instance, Cisco ISE won’t work with Cisco Meraki. Cisco 3602 and 3702 high density access points will not work with Meraki. And Meraki will not work with the other Cisco access solutions. With all these development teams working on the same but different products, something needs to change at some point. But we can’t advise you on that.
Meraki has an excellent sales strategy of providing free access points to try. Their online provisioning and user interface are quite appealing. This often results in companies making decisions without properly weighing all the options…including their long term requirements. Careful, unemotional evaluation is vital for any major wireless infrastructure investment.
Aruba Networks is the number two wireless access provider on a revenue basis. They are focused on the wireless access business and with such focus, all their products are interoperable. This gives customers a great deal of flexibility with little risk of being trapped in a solution that has little future upgrade potential. Aruba is very strong when it comes to client roaming within a facility or its grounds using Aruba Client Match.
Aruba also operates in a multi-vendor wireless environment. Aruba ClearPass and AirWave are widely used by Cisco customers, since the Aruba functionality outperforms Cisco.
Aruba’s Instant Access Points provide one-touch provisioning of a wireless network. Once one AP is configured with a web interface, every other AP connected to the network is automatically provisioned. Aruba also has a cloud management solution to reduce the capital investment cost for a sophisticated wireless solutions.
So if you are considering Cisco vs Aruba, be sure to do your homework and dig deep. Keep emotion and show out of your decision process.