Aruba Central: Helpful Features for Distributed Enterprises

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In distributed enterprise environments, cloud-managed access points can be very appealing.  By moving the access points' management plane into "the cloud", network administrators are able to turn up branch offices in minutes, often saving dozens of hours of staging time.

But what happens when there is a problem after the AP install?

An over-reliance on functional WAN connections carries significant risk: APs are not visible in a WAN outage; routers, firewalls, and VPNs must be configured to allow remote administration; and often IT personnel often are not onsite for advanced troubleshooting.

To help with these sorts of operational headaches, Aruba Central has added the following features.

1. Cloud Console for Advanced Troubleshooting:

When NAT or firewall rules prevent ingress HTTPS or SSH access, Aruba Central allows a user to see the virtual controller console from the web GUI.  From Aruba Central's web GUI, network admins have the same command line options as if they were consoled in with a serial cable.

2. Redundant WAN Uplinks

In order to alleviate risks associated with one WAN connection, two IP addresses can be bounded to the Ethernet port.  When a primary WAN link goes down, Aruba's keep alive algorithm will switch over to the secondary WAN connection.

This secondary WAN connection can be a cellular 4G card or simply another WAN IP address plugged into another cable or DSL modem.

3. Local Management Options:

In those rare cases where both WAN connections are down and a technician needs to service an AP, a local GUI allows for full configuration and troubleshooting independent of the WAN connection to Aruba Central.  On each Instant Access point, both HTTPS and SSH are supported.

4. Easy and Granular Firmware Control

On other cloud-managed WiFi systems, firmware is only upgraded (never downgraded) or is very cumbersome to manage. Aruba Central strikes a balance by allowing users to upgrade or downgrade according to version number.   To upgrade a clusters of APs on a customer premise, a network admin simply selects a version number for that cluster and submits.  All the APs in the cluster -- regardless of AP type -- are upgraded seamlessly at once.

When moving equipment to "the cloud", be sure your networking infrastructure factors takes into consideration operational pain points.  Too much time spent on root cause analysis, constantly sending technicians onsite, firmware rollbacks, and no local management can be very costly!