Aruba Wireless Review

Some of the implementations or features do work as advertised. Urgent areas of improvement would be customer support, better tuned default settings, and documentation.

What is our primary use case?

Using this solution district-wide in all of our secondary buildings. We have over 1000 IAP-225 APs deployed, along with ClearPass.

How has it helped my organization?

We currently use the MAC address caching through ClearPass to allow guests to connect from a prior authenticated attempt. We also use the Visual RF component in AirWave for tracking devices.

What is most valuable?

There aren't a lot of features that Aruba has that their competitors don't. With that being said, some of the implementations or features do work as advertised: easy deployment of APs, MAC caching, and aesthetically pleasing GUI for configuration.

What needs improvement?

The urgent areas of improvement would be customer support, better tuned default settings, and documentation. Aruba’s TAC support for us has been frustrating most of the time, as there is a clear language/dialect barrier when speaking or emailing a TAC representative. We’ve found that we have more emails (which equates to longer resolution time) than typically needed to cover certain questions and updates – as the TAC directions and instructions were either incomplete or we couldn’t understand what they were referencing. There have been occasions where a local Aruba rep, has had to step in for the TAC due to this problem.

Out of the box the Aruba gear (at least with the IAP-225 APs) comes with all of the marketing promised higher throughput settings (which causes issues such as CCI) enabled such as (but not limited to): 80 Mhz channel width (which anybody rarely uses), all 2.4 Ghz channels enabled, and high transmit power turned on. Many of these settings are used rarely in most deployments, and will need to be tuned. Aruba should enable 40 Mhz channels, only enable channels 1,6,11 on 2.4 Ghz, and set the power lower – as this will give most deployments a better chance at succeeding. This would benefit those who just put them in and call it a day or have little to no knowledge on the inner-workings of RF. This isn't an Aruba only problem, many of the wireless vendors do this, and the community has asked for this to change – however, I felt it was worth noting.

Aruba’s documentation is pretty good, however there are cases where something is recommended by a TAC or an Aruba engineer that cannot be found in their documentation for the product itself, or their best practices guides (often referred to as Validated Reference Designs – VRD). The things that we've had to change/rethink but weren't in the documentation are: cluster sizes, standard L2 VLAN, disabling L3 Mobility, and client match.

For how long have I used the solution?

Four to six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have encountered stability issues. The APs would sometimes randomly reboot; no idea what was causing it and support was less than helpful. The clients connecting would have a magnitude of issues until we turned off or disabled some features (some of which we really wanted to use).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have encountered scalability issues. We were initially hooked by the simplistic nature of the "controller-less" idea. We have come to find out that we need to revamp our networking from 1-2 clusters per building (depending on size), to one cluster per network closet. This is not in the official documentation, so it feels like bait and switch. We also need to redo our VLANS, as now we've been told to go to one big L2 network for data, again not located in the documentation.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service is very poor. We've had many problems with Aruba TAC, such as (and not limited to): not being able to understand them, them not being complete in their requests, and outright incompetence. We've had to bring in Aruba reps and other third parties locally to assist in getting issues resolved.

Technical Support:

Technical support is very poor; see Customer Service section.

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

We previously used Extreme Networks. We switched from 802.11n to 802.11ac, and Aruba was rewarded the bid mainly due to cost.

How was the initial setup?

The setup for the APs is straightforward; however, you need to be extremely knowledgeable to set up ClearPass.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was done by a little bit of both an in-house team and a vendor team. The vendor helped us get the ClearPass set up; otherwise, we set up the AirWave appliance (monitoring solution - similar to a controller).

What was our ROI?

Not sure about ROI, but with the money spent attempting to fix the problems caused by this solution, it's definitely not as good as we would like.

In regards to perhaps a 'hidden' ROI, one of our building's WiFi was extremely unreliable that the staff and users of the network simply gave up using it. We are pursuing a different vendor at this location.

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

Get multiple bids/quotes, and talk to the representatives about the limitations of the product; pretty standard.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, we also evaluated Cisco, Extreme Networks (Enterasys at the time), and Xirrus. This process was completed before I came aboard.

What other advice do I have?

Honestly, and simply put, I would look elsewhere. I feel this company falls short on its promises, has been a pain to work with, and the product I feel is inferior to its many competitors.

Don't be fooled by the marketing hype; it's a fair product but it's not everything they promise.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Add a Comment

author avatarDale Nevarez
Real User

I think it only be fair to say I agree with everything said here except in the past year Aruba TAC service is much improved and is way more responsive these days

author avatarD6B8
Top 5LeaderboardUser

Glad to hear that, we still have a few sites using Aruba, but I've been put on another vendors product going forward.