Controllerless Networks

Contributor I

AirWave vs Aruba Central

We are looking at using the IAP103 to create a managed service with most sites only needing one to three access points.  Each site will have a WAN link to a data centre where the only Internet access is.   Each site will also utilise the same servers (AD, DHCP, DNS, etc.) in the data centre.  There will be two SSIDs - a corporate SSID utilising PEAP MSCHAPv2 with the AD server in the data centre and a guest SSID.  The only "unique" component to the wireless design will be the guests - each site can only create/manage guests for that site.


My question is what are the advantages and disadvantages of using an AirWave server in the data centre (private cloud) to manage the Instant access points over using the public cloud Aruba Central product?

Guru Elite

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

A lot of it comes down to investment and resources.


AirWave licenses are a one time cost (plus yearly support). Aruba Central is a yearly cost that includes the hosting of the service (server, upgrades, updates) and support.


With Central, you don't have to worry about maintaining the server side of the management platform.


If you see yourself deploying controller-based APs in the future, it might make more sense to deploy AirWave on-premise as it can manage both campus APs and Instant clusters.

| Tim Cappalli | Aruba Security | @timcappalli | |

NOTE: Answers and views expressed by me on this forum are my own and not necessarily the position of Aruba or Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

The vast majority of these sites are extremely small and they have very basic requirements.  For example, it may be a rural doctor's office with one reception area, a small waiting area and one or two doctor's rooms.


The reasons I am looking at the Instant product include:


  • The local Aruba office has been extremely aggressive with their pricing so the IAP103 is now around the same price point as the dual-band D-Link, Ubiquiti, etc. access points.  Without this support we couldn't be looking at the Instant product due to the target market's price sensitivity.
  • The fault finding functionality in the Instant product is far superior to the previously mentioned brands so will reduce post installation support costs.
  • With the newer Instant firmware supporting layer seven firewalling (we always need to block torrents for legal reasons).
  • We can "upgrade" the Instant access points to campus access points if required in the future.

With the AirWave license being a "one time cost (plus yearly support)" this may be the may to go.  Have you had any experience of managaing Instant access points with AirWave?

Valued Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

Here are a few talking points to considder with regards to the two management platforms:


Cost (US List price)

Let's assume 100 IAPs and 1 year of service for now.

AirWave VM:           AW-100: $8,995

AirWave Support: SA1-AW-100 1yr: $1,620

Total: $10,690


Aruba Central: SUB1-CNP-IAP-1: 1 year per AP: $50 (special through Dec. ’14 normally $140)

Total: $5,000




More detailed reporting and customizable reports.

More detailed client info

Visualization of the floorplan and RF coverage via VisualRF

Troubleshooting tools for the Helpdesk.

Comes as an appliance or a VM

Zero-Touch provisioning of IAP



More complex product, due to feature richness, hence steeper learning curve than Central.

Not a multi-tenant application so no separation of client data. Not an issue if you are the only one with access to airWave.




Cloud based so no HW/SW to maintain

Simpler product with intuitive interface

Support is included in the subscription

Each customer has their own account and can see only their own networks. "Service Provider login" coming soon

Zero-Touch provisioning of IAP



Less detailed reporting and not customizable

No VisualRF Plan


I suggest you contact your local Aruba Sales team or Aruba Partner and request an Eval of each product so you can test both and determine which is best for your project.  You can try them for 90 days before you buy!

Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

Lastly, if we have different sites with different subnets, for example:


Site #1

Site #2


and we have IAP103 access points at each site is there going to be any issues with the site wireless administrator logging into the site's VC using a wired connection (their Desktop PC) to create guest accounts?  How will we know the IP address of each site's current VC?


Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

We are doing essentially what you describe - except that we have 10-18 iAP per grocery-store.

We're not currently doing guest wireless at the stores, but I've been planning the process so that I can be ready to jump if management decides to "surprise" me with the new requirement.


We use Airwave for several reasons: Cloud service didn't exist when we started being the least of them. Total control of service and environment being the primary.


The templates I've built and the DHCP options we set for each location make the install a breeze.


As far as local site's administering their guests, you can either teach them to bookmark a link and then they'll never think about it again, or put eac site VC address in your DNS so that they can type in the URL, bookmark it and never think about it again.


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Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

In our case we can't use DNS for the VC discovery as all the sites share the same DNS.  If the user wanting to login to the VC to create a guest account is associating over the wireless we don't have an issue but the majority of our users will be conencted to a Desktop PC with an Ethernet connection (a receptionist, for example) so I am not sure how we can make a shortcut on their Desktop that always points to the current VC.


Marcus, thanks for the Aruba Central vs AirWave comparison.  It was really helpful.  We obtained local pricing for both solutions using a twenty five access point count and we found that AirWave (excluding any VM housing costs) was 72% of the cost of Aruba Central over a three year period.


Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

Do the computers move around? I'd figure that when it is placed in an office, the short cut could be set and would stay valid until the machine was retired from service.


I had a thought though:

It's possible a destination-NAT for any access to an address on port 4343 set up on each iAP-VC which points them to the correct VC might work...



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Occasional Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

Hi Marcus,



> Not a multi-tenant application so no separation of client data. Not an issue if you are the only one with access to airWave.



It was my understanding that the Group/Folder structure is exactly that, an approach for multi-tenancy. You'd need to know the shared-secret to deploy an IAP/Controller to another Group and usually you don't have that. Your user access will be restricted to the Group/Folders that you have access to, the rest is (should be) invisible to you.


Is Aruba Central not based on a massively-scaled Airwave in the back-end?


Please correct me if my understanding was incorrect.


Thanks in advance,



Twitter: BennyE_HH
My Homepage:
Valued Contributor I

Re: AirWave vs Aruba Central

AirWave was not designed as a true multi-tennant application.  Folders, generally, will do a good job of keeping data separate; however, there may be instances of "data-leakage".


Central and AirWave do not share any common code................Central was built from the ground up.

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