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Aruba Switches Alternatives and Competitors

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Darren-Sinden
Solutions Specialist - Enterprise Networking & SD-WAN at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 10
Pushing out policies from a single location is an easy way of leveraging utilities and resources

Pros and Cons

  • "The product provides a single-pane-of-glass in for management of wireless, security, and switching from multiple devices."
  • "Communication of compliance risk is awkward at best and threatening at worst. It needs to be addressed."

What is our primary use case?

When I'm advising customers on solutions I have to know what they need. If they are happy using a cloud management platform and they are looking at running more than a single line of business, then having the web portal with Meraki is a simple solution. It provides a single-pane-of-glass in terms of management. It is easy to switch between the wireless, the security, and controlling the switching if they own all of those different technologies provided by Meraki. With other vendor brands, you might find that the operating cost would potentially increase due to them having to manage different platforms.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for us are the APIs. Development there has been very exciting and now we can actually drill down to client levels. What that means is that when I look at the portal I can drill down to the users that are logged on to the network and see what they are using the network for. It is very valuable to us and the client to have that ease of use and the capability of providing high-level service and service quality on the switches. It is a nice and easy way of leveraging utility and resources by pushing out policies from a single location to wherever my Meraki devices may be.

If I was an IT manager and I had sites globally, Meraki would be a perfect fit. I could reach the devices that are overseas without me or anyone else having to touch them. It is very much like zero-touch deployment, which is fantastic. An obvious bonus is that this capability is still backed by Meraki R&D with talented teams to support it. When changes and new features come out, I don't have to worry about doing software upgrades on devices because it's all done in the cloud. They just load it up and on you go. Of course, many other things are happening with Meraki and other developments that they are working on with Cisco. The whole story will come out in the resolution of what they choose to do on the security side of things and what capabilities you can gain by using Cisco and Meraki together.

What needs improvement?

A complaint that I might have about the services is the compliance risk response. If I or our clients put too many devices on a network, threatening emails get triggered by Meraki saying that we are out of compliance. It can put unnecessary fear into the customer of the product that their services will be curtailed or that they will have to pay escalated fees. The customer in turn then pushes the problem on to the reseller — us — which can create an awkward situation. We are seen as a less-trusted advisor because what we provided was poorly planned. I think there is a major problem with warning clients in that way. I've started hearing customers wishing that they had not gotten into a subscription just because of that policy. It is all well good having a subscription policy but making customers edgy is making some consider switching away from Meraki. Losing customers due to the means of enforcement of the subscription service is pretty ill-advised.

I think one of the things that Meraki started to develop and then held back on is unified communications. Meraki started beating the drum about using Meraki for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and then they suddenly stopped it. It would be nice to actually see that coming to the market, especially in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa). With Cisco's acquisitions such as Broadsoft, Meraki could potentially invest in that technology, so they would be able to provide a voice platform backed by Cisco. It could be an excellent situation and fulfill their promises at the same time.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using this switching solution since Cisco purchased Meraki about six years ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There's been a couple of challenges with the stability of the solution. For example, a year ago some of the software products that were going into the switches were not functioning as expected. You cannot really fault the product for that exactly. They are nine out of ten in terms of stability. You turn them on, they work, they get along with other components, and they keep working.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Meraki is scalable but it's only seen as a stackable switch solution. The one thing is the mid-market where obviously Meraki has traditionally had most of their focus on. So, when you buy switches and you want to scale, you have to have them in switch stacks. What Meraki hasn't done — and missed a bit of an opportunity in my opinion — is they've not really developed a low form factor switching solution in the form of a chassis switch. I think that could open up a massive opportunity for Meraki in terms of being seen as more of an enterprise solution.

As far as our own scaling we have seen their numbers grow in terms of selling their solutions whereas we've seen other lines of business that decline. So, I'd say that we've definitely seen exponential growth in sales of Meraki as a solution. More and more customers whom I talk to get to the point of serious consideration and go through the finer processes of discovering what Meraki is all about. People who choose it seem to like it so much that they stick to it. I think the only time I've really seen a compelling reason for not going with Meraki is that the security with regards to firewalls is still Meraki solutions. They really don't quite compete with Cisco and their ASA (Adaptive Security Appliance) technology.

In any case, we do continue to have plans to scale our usage of this solution for us and our customers.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not been in contact with Meraki support directly. I do know that there are lots of different ways to actually reach out to support people. Meraki now sells different levels of supports so that you can choose a level that will fit your needs. Obviously, as partners, I've got all the contact details. There is also the Make a Wish feature within the portal that we can use to ask for a special request. They seem to be switched on in terms of what they do and how they do it. All the technicians seem young and very knowledgeable in terms of their areas of expertise.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is straightforward. There are some simple rules of a sort that you have to use. And, of course, Meraki does make it easy. If the opportunity that an end-user is working on is large enough, then there may be a reason to look into training courses that Meraki offers. They offer these in order to help customers in terms of adopting, managing, and expanding their use of the technology. 

A lot of configuration can be done on the cloud before actually having the switches go live. When the switches go live and the license has been activated, then you actually push the configurations on to the switches. From that point of view, I think it is just a great mentality that Meraki has got now around using the portal.

What about the implementation team?

Of course, as partners, we do our own implementations. Our clients often need assistance from our side or from integrators for the deployments. A lot of the time our position with clients is more advisory. The customers know what they know. What they don't know and understand is what they haven't seen before. Some customers like to just dive in and try and work it out for themselves. I've seen clients on the other end of the spectrum where they need help in terms of redoing IP addressing schemes. What they need is some assistance with regards to making sure that it is all configured correctly and doing testing as they are doing the migration from one type of switch to another type of switch. The depth of our involvement all depends on the customer's skills. But even being trained as a Cisco CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) doesn't necessarily mean you are going to be able to get straight to doing a Meraki installation.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As a reseller, evaluating options is somewhat built into the business structure. I deal with Meraki, Aruba, and Cisco around enterprise networking, security, voice, and wireless.

What other advice do I have?

My experience with Meraki goes back to the MS-1 series. That's when I first took the original Meraki training course and got the CMNA (Certified Meraki Networking Associate) certification. We got to play on the newest series of switches around at that time. Those have already gone past their lifecycle. We participate in ongoing training now and continue to get a look at the latest versions of the Meraki switches and get to know early on what is happening in terms of new development. The product is now becoming more of a hybrid with Cisco and other vendor products rather than just purely focusing on Meraki as a stand-alone solution.

If I have any advice for people considering the product, it is to jump on board and don't look back. If you're after a platform that is completely cloud compatible, a solution that will allow you to manage it from anywhere you need to be, then it's definitely a step in the right direction going forward. Meraki seems to cover most things. It takes away the need for CLI (Command-line Interface) which is obviously an aging technology that people were using a decade ago. Now it is a web-based interface and it is available on many different devices. You can now take management anywhere you go. How you push it out affects what you can do with it. Visibility and control are fantastic from Meraki.

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Meraki switches as an eight out of ten. How good it serves a purpose depends on the use case. For different use cases and different scenarios, I'd give it a different rating. For example, if it is deployed for a data center, then I would rate Meraki very low because the product is not designed to be a data center switch. If I'm using it for total visibility in terms of applications and controls and what is happening on a network, then I rate it very high. For that, I'd give it as much as a 10. Its rating is all about the use case.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
ES
Chief Technology Officer at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Reseller
Top 20
High Bandwidth AV-over-IP is fantastic, especially in leaf-and-spine, and the setup is very easy

Pros and Cons

  • "The High Bandwidth AV-over-IP functionality of these switches has been fantastic, especially in leaf-and-spine. We've been able to build redundancy and they seem to outperform even the Cisco Catalyst, which is about twice as expensive as the M-series switches are."
  • "If they could come up with ways to look at metrics on it while the video is capping through the system, that would be nice. There could be some interesting uses for that, but it's a long way off."

What is our primary use case?

We use them for AV-over-IP, meaning devices that transport multimedia bits and packages across the network. We use about 5,000 switches a year and we use them all over the place. We'll use them on a video wall. We don't use a matrix router anymore. We'll run and operate AV through switches for distribution.

We're using the ProSAFE and we're using the M4300's and the M4500's.

How has it helped my organization?

We're seeing a 35 to 40 percent cost drop and, so far, we don't have any returns or any RMAs. No flaws.

What is most valuable?

The High Bandwidth AV-over-IP functionality of these switches has been fantastic, especially in leaf-and-spine. We've been able to build redundancy and they seem to outperform even the Cisco Catalyst, which is about twice as expensive as the M-series switches are.

The price-to-performance for the M4300s is phenomenal. It's the best-on-market.

We also like the ease of set up. The setup on them takes less than 15 minutes. They're fantastic. On a scale of one to five, the ease of use is a five.

The warranty rates a four or five out of five. It's a good warranty. We don't have any problems with the product, so we don't think about it.

What needs improvement?

It looks like they're going to come up with an auto-config, so if it's a slightly different switch, when you plug them together they will auto-recognize each other.

Also, if they could come up with ways to look at metrics on it while the video is capping through the system, that would be nice. There could be some interesting uses for that, but it's a long way off.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started transitioning to NETGEAR Switches seriously about seven months ago. It's gone really well. We're very limited in what we'll recommend and choose for our clients to build their systems with.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had one failure.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability? Love it. It was very cleverly designed in terms of the output ports and being able to plug it into a 10 Gb and be able to leaf-and-spine a system. I have not run out of capacity for any of the stuff I've been building.

When customers want to add on to their systems, to add on a switch, we can definitely add one on because the system is expandable.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've used technical support a couple of times and they're very helpful to our guys in getting things set up.

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

Our customers primarily switch from Cisco to NETGEAR. It's just a better switch for the same cost for small business: the 350s and 550s. I would even say that NETGEAR can now outperform a Catalyst on an AV transport.

How was the initial setup?

It's very straightforward to set them up. You put them into a system and you connect all your devices to them. Every system has a switch.

You don't need to be an IT expert to deploy and support your networks. We're plugging in devices on pre-configured switches. The switches are pre-configured to work within the environment that we're putting them in. Because of the low maintenance in setup, it's really easy to send our technician-level out for installation. As a matter of fact, we can install most of the items directly out-of-box, without even setting them up.

For deployment and maintenance we require one person per job, usually a technician.

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

The pricing is great. The cost of the hardware is low. I think it would be bad for NETGEAR to start going down the road of a licensing model. We want a one-time, upfront cost.

They're not the lowest cost. There are a few solutions that have a lower cost, but NETGEAR is very value-oriented. If you're not considering NETGEAR switches, you're throwing money out the window right now. There's nothing on the market like it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I'm familiar with many other solutions: Extreme, Luxul, Cisco, Aruba, and Dell, and none of them even come close to NETGEAR.

The others don't have IGMP Plus, that's exclusive in NETGEAR. And balancing PIM nodes and all that other stuff on a large network is a pain. It doesn't work that well. NETGEAR even has functions that the other switches just don't have.

With IGMP the querier is not necessarily equal on all switches. And the amount of buffer that NETGEAR has feels like it could take on twice the amount of the bandwidth that we're placing on it. It just feels like the NETGEAR switch was made to do AV multicasting, instead of trying to fit AV multicasting on a network switch. It feels like it was designed the other way around.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
Hossam Ismail
Expert Network Consultant at a consumer goods company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Consultant
Top 5
Flexible with good configuration capabilities but too expensive

Pros and Cons

  • "Cisco as a whole is flexible."
  • "Cisco products are expensive compared to any other solution. Now, there are many competitors that give the same level of services - such as Juniper or Aruba."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for our data center and edge switches. Like a lot of companies, we use (in the data center) core switches on Layer 3, and (on the edge) switches in Layer 2. 

What is most valuable?

Cisco as a whole is flexible. 

The solution can be configured to our specifications.

The solution allows you to monitor CPU utilization and memory usage.

What needs improvement?

You can only configure both switches and routers via the command-line. They should work to take on the newer HP and Aruba approach where you can configure from a URL or command line.

It could be useful if they developed the GUI interface to enable us to configure all features such as VLANs, port assignment, routing, DSP, through the GUI. That would make it easier for beginners. 

Cisco products are expensive compared to any other solution. Now, there are many competitors that give the same level of services - such as Juniper or Aruba.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using this solution for about eight years. It's been a long time.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable. Cisco offers very reliable products. All of their hardware is quite reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is quite scalable. However, the pricing is a concern. If I need to add switches, I tend to look at cheaper options like Juniper or HP.

In my organization, there were about 150 switches or more. That covered about 4,000 users and covered both wireless and LAN, wired and wireless.

We may not continue to use it, as it is expensive and there are alternatives.

How are customer service and technical support?

There are many vendors in Egypt. Therefore, we can always find someone who can help us with technical support.

On top of that, we've found the website to be quite good in terms of finding documentation to help with troubleshooting.

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

We also use Aruba switches. I've used HP in the past as well.

How was the initial setup?

Depending on the project for configuration, and considering deploying only one switch at a time, it may take about five minutes to handle one switch. Aruba, in contrast, might take ten minutes.  

We had about four people who handled the deployment.

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

The pricing of the solution is quite high. There are lots of comparable products out there that are nowhere near the cost. 

What other advice do I have?

We're just customers and end-users.

We use Cisco switches at Layer 2 and Layer 3.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend Cisco to other organizations. After using HP, I found that they had just as good of a product with more features and better pricing.

In general, I would rate this product at a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
LS
User at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Top 5
Good price point, very versatile and good configuration capabilities

Pros and Cons

  • "The cost and versatility are the solution's most valuable features. You can do anything with them if you know how to. The solution has a whole portfolio of routing features available."
  • "They could improve their product if they set, for instance, a controller for wireless LAN. That would allow them to really have something more than an access point."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for high performance, low-cost routers and for low-cost wifi environments where we need specific configurations.

What is most valuable?

The cost and versatility are the solution's most valuable features. You can do anything with them if you know how to. The solution has a whole portfolio of routing features available.

You don't need to buy special licenses for the solution. You have everything there. The configuration capabilities are good too. They're very flexible. 

What needs improvement?

The solution doesn't fit every need. There are lots of things you cannot do. There is no management and there is no controller in wireless. It's not a real whole network. You have to work them into other solutions. Mikrotik is mostly a standalone solution and you have to manage how it relates to other solutions, unlike Cisco, which is something that you can easily put into an ecosystem.

They could improve their product if they set, for instance, a controller for wireless LAN.
That would allow them to really have something more than an access point.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution since 2013.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution isn't really scalable. Each machine has a purpose, and while you can swap it out for a bigger one, you have to create a new design. They're stand-alone products. There is not a flow of products that brings you to the next step easily.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't reached out to technical support myself, however, my colleagues have, and my understanding is they were able to resolve the issues. They were satisfied with the level of support they received. However, it was a process to get in touch with them, share the problem, and work together to solve it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex. Users will need to do a bit of research before implementing the product. You must prepare and understand how to set each parameter. You couldn't use Mikrotik if you're not certified or have a deep knowledge of the solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We use a few different solutions. We are installing big networks with Aruba and use Extreme Networks as well. Which solution we ultimately use depends on the project itself.

What other advice do I have?

We buy from wholesalers, but we don't have a special selling agreement with anyone.

I'd rate the solution ten out of ten when it fits. It's useless if it doesn't fit. If it fits, I don't think there's a better product when you are looking at price-performance. Overall, I'd rate them nine out of ten. Any requirement would be fulfilled from Aruba or from Cisco, but not necessarily from Mikrotik, which is why I don't give them a perfect score.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jean-Pierre-Gerber
System Engineering Manager at pronet-engineering GmbH
Reseller
Top 10
Easy to stack multiple switches for additional ports, but technical support needs improvement

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the IRF."
  • "In the next release, I would like to see them include more features like the Aruba solution, to have more possibilities concerning the software design."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case of this solution is for the customer's assurances in medium-size businesses.

The deployment model that we are using is on-premises, but it is going more and more in the cloud direction.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the IRF. It is very good, it has a multi-connection that you can do with multiple aggregation protocols to different chassis and this is a very valuable feature.

It's easy to stack more switches together if you need more ports.

What needs improvement?

Technical support needs improvement.

Customer awareness, as in the availability of the products, needs to be improved through marketing or other information.

Currently, we haven't seen any new switches and we don't know if there will be others.

In the next release, I would like to see them include more features like the Aruba solution, to have more possibilities concerning the software design.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for nine years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable. It's a very good solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable solution. With the IRF you can stack the switches willfully together locally or geographically. You can have the same switch even if you have a switch ten kilometers away from your location.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support needs improvement.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward and easy.

The time it takes to deploy depends on if the customer. An SD solution that will use management to configure the switches automatically will take minutes. If you have to configure a stand-alone switch it can take half an hour.

For ten customers there may be one person to deploy the switch and maintain it. You would rarely have to replace a switch.

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

There is no license for this solution.

We need a license for having a management solution, but the switch does not need a license. There are free software updates and there is a lifetime warranty for a few of the switch series.

If a customer has an issue with a switch and has to return to HPE, they can have it replaced within thirty days.

To our customers, we offer a contract service to have an exchange within the next day.

What other advice do I have?

I would suggest not to invest in this switch. Aruba, which is also HPE, has a great switch. Aruba is taking over these types of switches because of the DLAN and WLAN. 

I agree that HPE provides good products but I would go with Aruba OS.

I would rate this solution a six out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
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