Aerohive vs. Aruba

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I'm currently evaluating products and was wondering if anyone has any experience with both manufacturers and has any thoughts. Both products stand head and shoulders above our Cisco wireless feature wise. My main concern with Aerohive is the controllerless architecture. We have 40-50 offices nationwide and I am concerned about managing alot of individual devices.
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Billy Jones

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Posted 6 years ago

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Bradley Chambers, Champ

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I've not had any experience with Aruba, but I know that I love Hive Manager (Aerohive's Network Management system). You could easily manage every single office from one single interface. It would make policy changes and firmware updates a breeze.

Controller-less is the main reason I went with Aerohive for my school. It's architecture is built in a distributed manner so there are no bottlenecks or single points of failure. All the AP's in a location work together through a cooperative control protocol (see http://www.aerohive.com/pdfs/Aerohive...).
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Matthew Norwood

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Billy,

How many devices do you have in each location? I work for a reseller that partners with Aerohive and Cisco. We see really good traction with Aerohive in the geographically distributed environments.

The choice when it comes to the other vendors using controllers are to either run some sort of hybrid mode(ie Cisco's Flex Connect/H-REAP) with local switching and a controller in a central data center or put a full featured controller at every location. The exception being if you only need 1 or 2 AP's at each site, you COULD run them autonomous, but it isn't any fun to manage them. Putting controllers everywhere gets expensive.

Are your concerns around the controllerless architecture based on scalability, performance, or security? I'm always interested in this type of discussion from a sales perspective. It comes up all the time. :)

As for the management piece, HMOL or a local HM instance is a piece of cake to use. Each newer version makes it even easier to deploy AP's. I have yet to talk to an Aerohive customer my company has dealt with that didn't like the HM platform. The only close exception was the Meraki interface. It was/is pretty slick, but the hardware just doesn't compare to what Aerohive is using, and the improvements that are coming to HM should narrow that gap even more.
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Jade Rampulla

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With H-REAP you lose several authentication and roaming features. See the documentation here:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/p...

Aerohive is a much better product if you want to locally switch data from the AP.
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TechDirector

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When we evaluated APs for our 1 to 1 roll out at our high school, we looked at Cisco, Aruba, Areohive and Meraki. We already had 90 Mac laptops in our English area using Cisco APs controlled by a Cisco 5506 controller. We used that area as our test area for all the different products. What we found that Areohive was easy to setup and manage, but yet it went deep enough to handle 1257 student laptops plus 90 teacher laptops on our campus. We went with the 330's. Aruba was more difficult to setup and manage, but easier than Cisco. Meraki was the easiest by far, but not a lot of flexibility and depth. We run the VM of HiveManager on site and we have been very pleased with the roll out. Aruba is not a bad company, but for all around flexibility and performance, we are happy with Aerohive.

Feel free to ask more questions if you need further clarification.
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Chuck MPS

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TechDirector:

We have 750 student ipads and 100 teacher laptops with 25 AP350s. If you would consider helping us compare settings or notes, please let me know. email m p s @ s b s 2003 dot net without the spaces or word 'dot'.

Since you are running almost twice the user count that we have, I'd love to hear from you. thank you!!
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Tash Hepting

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Billy,

HiveManager (either the online or on-premise version) gives you tools which allow you to apply policy and configuration across groups of access points, much like the configuration profiles you get with controller-based products. Except, without the controllers.

It won't feel like you're managing hundreds of individual APs like the early days. It'll be extremely easy and you'll find other benefits opening up to you like the ability to choose when you want to software upgrade different locations (as opposed to a controller forcing all APs to upgrade when the controller software is upgraded to add support for a new AP model or feature).
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Angie Tellmann

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Billy, I can tell you from experience - I tested Aruba's controllers and they failed late one night. I had to drive back into work and replace them because it took my whole facility down. Controller-less is the way to go hands down!!!
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Angie Tellmann

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In addition - my company has approximately 70 locations across the southeast running Aerohive and it's very easy to manage using the Hivemanager Online. If you do go with Aerohive - attend the classes they are very helpful especially if David Coleman is teaching them.
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Jade Rampulla

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I had David Coleman too! He was an excellent instructor. I got the certifications shortly after his class and did all our policy configuration with some help from support. Couldn't have done it without David's class!
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Crowdie, Champ

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Just to play the Devil's advocate I think a few people are being a little harsh on the Aruba products.

From a strictly financial point of view small offices can have a branch router, such as the 651, or one of the smaller wireless LAN controllers configured in local mode. The appropriate Aruba access points are less expensive than the Aerohive access points so the access point price differential can cover the cost of the branch router or local mode wireless LAN controller.

The security features on Aruba wireless LAN controllers are second to none and they feature AppRF (Application Visibility and Control), advanced 802.1X handling (matching of the machine and user authentication results) that Aerohive cannot do as well and an extremely powerful WIPs solution.

If you are looking at a wireless LAN controller based solution then Aruba is well worth a look.
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Jade Rampulla

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I worked with Aruba stuff a while back at my college and it worked well but we weren't using that many features. The only thing I wonder is what happens when the controller (or AP acting as a controller) fails? Does roaming and authentication still function normally during the failure and recovery? What about bandwidth bottlenecks?

Aerohive's new 6.0 software does application visibility and control. They have been doing advanced 802.1x handling for a while. I have it enabled on our corporate SSID. We authenticate against a single 802.1x SSID, but classify domain devices with one vlan and firewall rule set, and BYOD devices with a different vlan and firewall rule set. Aerohive has a very nice WIPs solution as well. Not sure where the Aruba advantage is for those features. Sounds like they're about equal.
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Crowdie, Champ

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The Aruba WIPs is about as good as it gets from a security point of view. I haven't seen another WIPs solution that is so feature rich.

Aruba uses a master/local wireless LAN controller combination that allows you to distribute functions across the wireless LAN controllers.

With the new wireless LAN controller backplanes bottlenecks are not an issue with a campus deployment (assuming the LAN can support the additional traffic).

If you are still deciding between Aruba and Aerohive then you need to look at what you are trying to achieve as Aruba's solution (with the exception of the Instant products) has the most dependency on the wireless LAN controller (in comparison to Cisco, for example) and Aerohive has the least (for obvious reasons).

As I have said a number of times no enterprise wireless provider is better or worse than the other but one may be a better fit than the others for your customer's requirements. It is up to the wireless engineer to determine which solution is the best fit.
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Crowdie, Champ

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On the controller vs. controller less wireless front I was interested to see that Ruckus has released a "controller less" solution called Xclaim.  I haven't had a chance to look at it so I can't comment on whether:
  • It is truly controller less.
  • One of the access points acts as a virtual controller (Aruba Instant).
  • The controller dependency is hidden in sale spin (Meraki).
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Luke Harris

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Sorry to resurrect this thread once again - I'm looking to find a more recent comparison between Aruba (IAP and Controller solution) to Aerohive's latest offerings. My company has been walking down the line of an Aruba solution using Clearpass with redundant/HA controllers and appliances but the cost is astronomical...initial quotes for an Aerohive solution come in under half of the cost. Which is definitely a contributing factor.

As I wasn't privy to the initial procurement of the Aruba install, is there anything I should know regarding the Aruba product that would sway me from Aerohive (which I have used before and am very happy with) e.g. reporting features/network monitoring/ device provisioning. 
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Crowdie, Champ

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The first thing I would do is compare apples with apples.  Remove the ClearPass server and compare the pricing again.
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Crowdie, Champ

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I generally define a "controller solution" as one where the control traffic goes to a single point - whether that is a controller (Aruba/Cisco), single access point (IAP) or cloud controller (Meraki).  With Aerohive the control traffic is distributed across the access points.  The best way to think of this is take the scenario with IAPs where the IAP acting as the controller goes offline.  Another IAP has to now act as the controller (this happens automatically) or the solution fails.  With Aerohive a single access point doesn't result in another access point having to take additional control plane responsibilities. 
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Crowdie, Champ

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Some of the missed comments/question:

On Aruba/Cisco vs Aerohive: one of the major issues for my smaller customers is cost.  I am sure this is probably the same around the world.  With Aruba (non-IAP)/Cisco you need:
  • Controllers (if you only have one you have a single point of failure) and licensing - the killer.
  • Reporting/Management server (Airwave or Prime Infrastructure) and licesning - again the licensing is the killer.
  • Access points
With Aerohive:
  • Management server (HiveManager/HiveManager NG either on-premise or in the cloud)
  • Access points
On Aruba IAPs:
  • Scaling: the recommended maximum is 125 or 16 if you have an IAP9x models. 
  • The costs are the access point and support.  If you want to have a captive portal for smartphones/tablets you need AirWave (overkill for this requirement) or Aruba Central (cloud based management) as the integrated captive portal in IAP does not scale to the size of the wireless client's display.
  • The IAP has a layer seven firewall integrated and includes web filtering (although this may become a pay service at a later date - I have not been able to get HP to confirm that they will continue this as a free service).
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Fredrik L. Andersen

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Hi,

seems like there is some confusing elements here for the understanding for Aruba different solutions. They are the only vendor who have same AP hw for all different scenarios for physical, virtual and distributed controllers. Now all APs comes with UAP firmware for new plattforms. Scaling is based on plattform as mentioned the old 9x series, who is not selling anymore is based on plattform (3xx series scales to 200 (or more, based on the selected AP plattform) -> APs pr cluster) so you could build really big scale networks with Instant. 

Management you could select different platforms that covers your need for LAN and WLAN, from local CLI/WEB (free), Cloud (Central) with different services (Managament, reporting, guest, analytics (guest and performance), security etc) and to Airwave (on-prem for large enterprise networks including 3.part support). For different guest services you also have different options as well embedded in code (free) or using social login (free) or you cloud add guest service in Central (Cloud) with different setup like SMS, SoMe login etc) or the advanced enterprise version for ClearPass Guest (OnPrem solution) who includes unlimited deployment options.

Regards the integrated DPI and L7 FW is included in the AP plattform and have also included the web content classification bundle (WebCC) who includes today URL Filtering, IP Reputation and Geolocation Filtering. 

Good luck for your selection, but always compare apple to apple based on correct info :-)
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Luke Harris

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Fredrik - I really appreciate your input on this matter as I need to deal in 'hard facts' it's a shame that a lot of suppliers can't give me clear information regarding some of the points you have outlined above and clearly you are very much behind your product which speaks volumes.

I do have a couple of other questions though, does Aruba offer something similar to Aerohive's PPSK solution? I found this feature very useful in previous deployments as it allows for each user to have their own personal key. 
I have also read that firmware has to be applied on a per cluster basis rather than per AP. Can you confirm this? 
And finally, does Aruba IAP w/Cloud Central allow for the configuration of 'network policies' i.e. being able to apply different SSIDs to different access points (potentially at different times etc.) 

Thanks 
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Crowdie, Champ

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Only Aerohive and Ruckus have a PPSK style solution.  I raised it with Aruba management a few years ago at Airheads in Thailand but they weren't interested.

As both Fredrik and myself had said you need to compare apples with apples and I believe the only way you can do this is to get the different vendor's equipment in front of you as the devil is always in the small print.  All vendors look similar when you are working off datasheets but the reality can be very different.
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Tobias Protz

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I've been using the HP controllers that came before they acquired Aruba (MSM760 dual redundant controllers with 460 and 560 APs).
Aruba has no replacement for these enterprise solutions, even though they have been discontinued last summer. 
When I tried to evaluate them agains Ruckus, Cisco and Aerohive this spring they were not able to get back to my requests in 3 months with an offer or a date to present their tech. So beware, the support is as sluggish now as the HP support was after they split the company into HPE and end-user HP.
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Fredrik L. Andersen

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Many thanks for your feedback.
This pre announcement was done just after the merger of HPN and Aruba. There is several solutions that could replace the EOS HPN wireless solutions.

Send me and email at fredrik@hpe.com and I could assist you if you still want assist from Aruba.
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Crowdie, Champ

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It is normally considered polite to reveal any vested interests, like you work for a wireless vendor, when you are on a forum.
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Fredrik L. Andersen

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I'm very sorry if that wasn't clear. 
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Tobias Protz

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Then please add your employer to your name if possible (as a tag maybe?). 
I was under the impression that this forum was mainly a place for end users to discuss their problems, solutions and experiences with different wlan related things.
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Fredrik L. Andersen

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Hi Tobias, this post is over 4 years old.
I have comments on wrongly stated info about Aruba, noting else :-) Been working with WiFi and security for over 18 years with different vendors.