Aruba Wireless Review

Web interface for AP management is intuitive, makes managing the system easy

What is our primary use case?

We use Aruba wireless APs to provide wireless services for a private high school campus which is located on a 60-acre campus in Rockford, IL, with an enrollment of nearly 900 students.

How has it helped my organization?

Increased productivity with mobile devices has improved by expanding wireless coverage throughout the building. While our building has been covered by the Aruba APs throughout the years, we are now replacing older APs to increase bandwidth to support an increase in the number of users with dedicated devices. Nowadays, the end-user devices require faster bandwidth from APs, and the newest APs obviously support faster standards and improved bandwidth connectivity.

What is most valuable?

We appreciate that the Instant models do not require a dedicated "controller" to manage the APs. This cost saving allowed us to purchase more APs in our initial order. We started out small and slowly added more APs as each annual budget allowed. We still have the possibility of adding a dedicated controller which affords us more options, but at this time we haven't needed it.

The web interface to manage the APs is intuitive and makes managing the system easy. 

Firmware updates are quick and do not require much downtime.

What needs improvement?

Customer service really needs to be improved. If the customer support was better, I would recommend it to others more than I do now. I say that even though we are upgrading to newer units this summer.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability of wireless services provided by the Aruba APs hasn't been an issue. If there have been any issues, they've been minor and have been resolved by firmware updates.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No issues with scalability. Scalability has been one of the easiest aspects of the Aruba Instant product line. As long as the models are compatible, you can simply connect it to your network and it will learn the settings from the other APs on the network and join the AP network. This is one of the best features of the Aruba Wireless Instant product line, besides the fact that you do not need a dedicated "controller."

How are customer service and technical support?

The first level of technical support is frustrating, and I stated that technical support was the one area where Aruba Wireless needs improvement. Higher levels of support are better. Considering that you have to pay yearly for support, I expect a higher level of support. On a scale of one to 10, I'd give their first level of support a four. They have to improve.

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

We did for a very brief time, it was a consumer "off-the-shelf" product to get us by in strategic locations in our building. It was not intended to be a long-term deployment.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was straightforward. We followed the very basic instructions (connect to the new WiFi network, then go to a website, make some simple changes, save, reboot, done); updated the firmware, and we were on our way.

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

Pricing is competitive. Licensing is needed to maintain access to the latest firmware, which wasn't made clear originally when we started with Arbua (or things changed, I'm not sure which). I would just say, make sure you budget for it. In addition to the licensing, you do get "support," for what its worth.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No, we received guidance from others in our community and stuck with Aruba.

What other advice do I have?

We currently utilize the Aruba Instant 205 and older Instant 105 models. I would give both models a rating of an eight out of 10. We will be upgrading this summer to move our Instant 105 models out of circulation and will be implementing three new Aruba product lines.

Make sure you get the maintenance licensing, don't skimp on the models. If you can buy a more powerful unit, get the more powerful unit, it will be supported longer and offer a longer ROI.

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