Aruba InstantTM mode

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does somebody knows the differences to Aruba InstantTM mode?

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Christian Branderhorst

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Posted 5 years ago

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Bradley Chambers, Champ

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Devin Akin wrote up a pretty good article back when Aruba announced it:

I haven't deployed it, so I can't speak on it past what I have read. It feels like Aruba can't make up its mind on what they believe is the best architecture going forward and are just going with the 'shotgun' approach: shoot at everything and see what sticks.
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Crowdie, Champ

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A number of vendors; including Aruba, Cisco, Motorola and Ruckus; have hybrid solutions, such as Aruba's Instant. Aruba's Instant is really good for small simple designs but I wouldn't classify it as an enterprise solution yet - not that I am saying that it won't be someday.

Generally with hybrid solutions that don't utilise a wireless LAN controller:

* There is a limit to the number of access points that can be deployed. Commonly it is 16, 32 or 64.

* A single access point takes over the majority of the roles of the wireless LAN controller. This is one of the reasons for the limit on the number of access points that can be deployed.

* If you compare the functionality available with the vendor's wireless LAN controller solution against the hybrid solution you very quickly see that the hybrid solution is a "lite" solution with some functionality missing. Be really careful that the functionality missing is not one of your customer's current or potential future requirements.

With hybrid solutions that utilise a wireless LAN controller:

* Generally they have four modes:

(1) Centrally switched (data frames are routed back to the wireless LAN controller) and connected to the wireless LAN controller
(2) Centrally switched and disconnected from the wireless LAN controller
(3) Locally switched (data frames are placed onto the LAN by the access point at the site) and connected to the wireless LAN controller
(4) Locally switched and disconnected from the wireless LAN controller

* The functionality available, such as the guest captive portal [Ruckus], may change depending on which of the four modes the access point is currently in.

* Users are not aware of which mode the access point they are associated to is in so this may cause their experience to be inconsistent unless some thought is put into this issue during the wireless network design.

If you have a basic 802.1x (corporate) and captive portal (guest) wireless requirement then the hybrid solutions support this. However, if your customer is looking for a complex design then you may find yourself in trouble with a hybrid solution as they currently stand.

One of Aerohive's biggest selling features, well for me anyway, is their Private PSK solution. This enables wireless clients to connect to the WLAN using a unique passphrase (PSK). This is supported right down through the wireless client types, including smartphones, and if the user cannot enter a passphrase into their wireless client then you are probably going to have issues with them for the entire time they are connected to the WLAN. Only Aerohive and Ruckus support this type of functionality and the other major vendors; Aruba, Cisco and Motorola; only support captive portals (think an Internet Cafe) for guest authentication. I have had issues with some basic smartphones connecting or staying connected to captive portals so I tend to steer away from them when possible.

If you are looking at Aruba then look at a wireless LAN controller solution. Aruba's wireless LAN controller is extremely powerful, supports roles (user profiles in Aerohive speak), application visibility and control (AppRF in Aruba speak) and has an integrated stateful firewall. The biggest con of Aruba is that you are looking at on-going licensing costs for a number of their features (each access point, the stateful firewall, etc.)

Hybrid solutions at the moment appear to me to be a vendor trying to "put a foot in both camps" and the results are not as good as a specialist distributed (Aerohive) or centralised (Aruba, Cisco, Motorola) solution. So the big question for you is which type of solution is going to work best for your customer?
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Christian Branderhorst

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Thanks, Bradley and Crowdie