Aruba Instant On APs are a convenient and simple way to build a high-quality wireless LAN (WLAN) for any small business or home. It's not the solution for everyone, though. Is Aruba Instant On right for your WLAN?
To start with, do not confuse Aruba Instant On with Aruba Instant. Aruba Instant uses more expensive AP hardware and is more of a small enterprise solution with a lot of options and capabilities. Aruba Instant also has additional licenses required to use Aruba Central for cloud management of the APs, whereas the Aruba Instant On Portal is an included feature with no additional cost.
Aruba Instant On is aimed at smaller organizations with fewer than 100 users. If you are bigger than that, then Aruba Instant or traditional Aruba APs might be a better fit, depending on the size of your locations and how large those locations are.
If you have wireless VoIP handsets (not just cell phones using Wi-Fi calling), a more complex solution is going to be a better fit. Since Aruba Instant On is designed for simplicity, many of the radio-related settings that you would need to tune for more complex network requirements are not available. This probably isn't a concern for most organizations that would be looking at Instant On, but it's good to know.
If you have any other specialty devices with specific requirements for the wireless network, such as specific data rates that should not be enabled, DTIM adjustments, or special wireless QoS settings, this might not be a good fit since none of those settings are available.
However, if you have more conventional network requirements and are just looking for a solid network for data and basic multimedia needs, Instant On might be just the thing for you. It automatically configures the network for typical uses. You just need to provide the network names, the VLAN numbers (if any), and the Pre-Shared Keys.
If you want to use 802.1X authentication for the network, such as using employee usernames and passwords through a RADIUS server, that is supported for up to two RADIUS servers and also supports RADIUS accounting.
You can set bandwidth limits per client for each SSID you create and build a simple schedule for network availability for any networks you may not want available outside regular business hours, as well.Aruba Instant On can easily create a separate guest network that is secured from your corporate network and provide DHCP and DNS services for the clients. Alternatively, if you already have a guest VLAN, you can just set the VLAN tag and use that network's services.
If you need a captive portal so guests are required to accept terms and conditions prior to using the network or require a username and password, Instant On includes a really slick guest portal creation tool that has a nice WYSIWYG preview of the current settings. You can even configure the system to use Facebook Wi-Fi with a simple dropdown menu selection.
While Aruba Instant On isn't for everyone, it's a great fit for many organizations. With its simple configuration of some fairly complex features, it opens up complex Wi-Fi network setups to anyone with a few clicks. If Aruba Instant On doesn't quite meet your needs, there are still great options with Aruba Instant and Aruba Controllers.
About the Author
Scott McDermott is an enterprise network engineer and blogger with more than 20 years in IT and a background in multiplatform system administration. He wears lots of hats, but is particularly fond of wireless networking and network design. He enjoys a good packet capture, mentoring others and passing certification exams.