Aruba Instant Enterprise WiFi Solution Aimed at Campuses, Branches

Aruba’s Instant Enterprise, coupled with the new Activate solution, is aimed at making branch WiFi deployments easier, faster and less expensive.

Aruba Networks is rolling out new offerings designed to make it easier and less expensive to deploy WiFi wireless networks to the growing numbers of enterprise employees working in campuses and branch offices.

Aruba officials on Sept. 25 unveiled a software update to the company’s Instant portfolio, a software-only solution called Instant Enterprise that offers controller-less WiFi capabilities in distributed enterprise environments. As part of the Instant Enterprise offering, the company also launched Aruba Activate, a provisioning service that is cloud-based and needs no intervention from IT staff at the enterprise headquarters.

The result is a WiFi solution for remote offices that helps drive own the costs to enterprises—Aruba officials claim the new Instant Enterprise offering reduces the total cost of ownership by 42 percent over similar solutions from Cisco Systems—while maintaining the user experience and security found in a business’ main office.

“Aruba recognizes that an enterprise’s entire user population requires high performance, easy access to important applications and resources, and minimal configuration and management headaches,” Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer for Aruba, said in a statement, adding that Instant Enterprise brings to campuses the same capabilities found in enterprise WiFi deployments. “With Aruba Instant Enterprise, we’re addressing the entire enterprise, providing a consistent user and management experience whether the enterprise is using mobility controllers, a controller-less model, or a combination of the two. In any of these scenarios, the result for customers is improved performance and lower deployment costs.”

Addressing the needs of the distributed enterprise is becoming more important, according to Zeus Kerravala, principle analyst with ZK Research. In a blog post on the Network World site, Kerravala noted that his research has found that nowadays, more than 80 percent of employees work outside of the enterprise’s main headquarters, and usually in branch offices. Vendors need to break away from the traditional access point-controller models to deal with many of these scenarios, which can be expensive, he said.

It also can be time-consuming and complex. In some instances, access points must first be sent to the main office, then inventoried and sent back out to the branch offices. Aruba’s Instant Enterprise and Activate offerings are designed to avoid those issues. The controller-less access points can be sent to the remote office and plugged in, and then—through the Activate solution—be quickly provisioned via the cloud through configuration downloads. It avoids the need for onsite technical help and can reduce the time to deploy by 65 percent, company officials said.

Instant Enterprise offers such enterprise-level WiFi features as voice and video optimization, security, Layer 3 roaming, integrated spectrum analysis and support for Apple’s AirPlay and AirPrint technologies, according to Aruba officials.

Among the key features are Aruba’s built-in Policy Enforcement Firewall, which ensures uninterrupted real-time video and voice communications. In addition, with the Layer 3 roaming, mobile devices can move across subnet boundaries without impacting WiFi performance.

Aruba’s Instant Enterprise solution, including the new software release and Aruba Activate, is available now to existing Aruba Instant customers for free, the company said.