Deploying a Wireless Network with Aruba in 20 Min
Anyone who is familiar with Aruba Networks’ wireless networking gear knows they have a mix of controllers, switches and access points to provide a result of ubiquitous wireless services within and across an Enterprise footprint. However they also have controller-less access points that communicate with each other in a virtual controller mode, called Aruba Instant mode. In Aruba Instant mode, a single AP automatically distributes the network configuration to other Instant APs in the WLAN. After powering-up one AP, configuring it over the air, you can plug in the other APs and have the entire network up and running.
A two node Aruba deployment with no dedicated controller took under ten minutes from start to finish. I used the Aruba AP-105 access points and I will walk through the process for you.
First, I plugged the initial access point in. I connected to the “INSTANT” SSID it was broadcasting, and did the initial configuration. The initial configuration was basically telling it what SSIDs I wanted to broadcast, and the characteristics of them. I created a primary SSID (WILHELM) that is on my user network, a secondary SSID (WILHELM_LAB) that was on my private network for my lab (VLAN 100), and a third SSID (WILHELM_GUEST) that will be managed by the access point (it will hand out IPs, NAT, provide the access controls, etc…). The access points receive initial IPs via DHCP and find each other (you can statically assign each an IP easily) and you can also define a virtual IP that the web portal can be accessed by (in this case 10.10.0.250).
Configuring each SSID is very easy due to the interface…for example, while configuring the WILHELM_GUEST network as a AP-driven network you can define the splash / landing page, and even define a per-user rate limit (I chose 2Mb/s):
Similarly, configuring the WILHELM_LAB SSID and tying it to VLAN 100 was as easy as could be:
In the two screenshots below (specific sections of the UI expanded for explanation) you will see the two access points on the LAN and the three wireless networks that I configured:
Configuring all of this was very easy — you type the SSID, the VLAN it should use on the back-end, and any special requirements. The physical switch ports for the APs just needed those VLANs on them of course. WILHELM and WILHELM_LAB pass traffic back to the switch directly on their respective VLANs, and WILHELM_GUEST throws a splash page and requires the user to access terms and conditions, and then gives them an IP that is private (AP defined) and doesn’t let them access the main network.
I gave the cluster a single management IP and I can see traffic across the cluster, which clients are where, overall (and specific) throughput and a million other things. You can also drill into a specific access point with detailed metrics:
I am a big fan of simplified user interfaces (where there is enough shown by default to get started, but a huge amount of configuration parameters hiding behind a simple “Show Advanced Options” link). The Aruba wireless access points are the right mix of easy and powerful, and have very good performance ranging from home, small business and enterprise use cases.
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