Aruba unveils Instant ON portfolio right-sized for small business

The new portfolio is targeted at the sub-100 market, although it can scale higher than that, and will go to market solely through channel partners.

The Instant ON family (except for the Instant On AP17 Outdoor AP)

Today, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company is introducing Aruba Instant On, a new portfolio of secure wireless solutions designed specifically for the small business market. While Instant On is optimized for this market in terms of simplicity of installation and use, it also contains enough power to support growth well into the larger part of the SMB space. The announcement was made at Aruba’s Atmosphere EMEA 2019 event in Croatia.

“We are excited about this new portfolio,” said Lissa Hollinger, VP of product and solutions marketing for Aruba. “Both HPE and Aruba are really doubling down on the small business space. There has been a significant engineering investment, and Aruba just recently formed a new business unit focused on SMB. This is the first family of products from that unit.

“The sweet spot is under 100 employees, but Instant On’s rich capabilities will allow it to support more than that,” Hollinger said. She indicated it would scale considerably higher, although past the 250 employee point, other Aruba solutions might be more appropriate.

Out of the gate, Instant On launches with four different indoor access points  and one outdoor AP, all of which are powered by Aruba’s 802.11ac Wave 2 technology.

“Three of the indoor APs are ceiling-mounted, and the fourth, with a wall or desk mount, is aimed at the hospitality industry,” Hollinger said. “The outdoor access point is designed for outdoor cafés or pool decks.”

Aruba sees strong demand for this kind of product, as smaller businesses which have skimped on technology in the past to save money increasingly see it as a necessity to keep up with the demands of the market.

“Small businesses are beginning to embrace technology in the same way as the  midmarket and enterprise.” Hollinger said. 52 per cent are increasing IT budget because of security concerns. 68 per cent plan to replace legacy infrastructure in 2019. 62 per cent see Wi-Fi as important for driving more customer engagement because they see WiFi leading customers to spend more time on their premises.” Medical clinics, independent retailers, boutique hotels, and professional offices are seen as logical verticals.

Aruba has always sold into the SMB space, but the Instant On portfolio is different because it is specifically designed for small business requirements.

“It is right-sized for them,” Hollinger said. “There is no oversaturation with enterprise features which would complicate things. The Instant On products have security, but it’s not the same as the security in our enterprise portfolio. Deployment and management is made very simple through a mobile app and there is a cloud-based portal management option as well.”

Hollinger said that Instant On recognizes the fact that most small businesses do not have an IT specialist.

“One touch mesh setup is a new cool feature that makes installation easier,” she said. “They connect their first AP to the switch, but can then plug in the remaining access points into an outlet and they will be automatically discovered by the mobile app, and connect with one touch. That’s great where they don’t want ethernet cabling.”

Security involves an integrated WPA2/WPA3, OWE Wi-Fi security standard for secure open networks

“The APs also include a built-in firewall,” Hollinger noted. “Some competitor products need a separate security gateway.”

Customer support has also been customized specifically for small businesses.

“We provide 90 days of free 24/7 phone support, and free chat support for a year,” Hollinger said. “We are also standing up a new Instant On website with a community and support portal which is positioned for small business specifically. There is a tremendous Aruba community, but it tends to be very technical. For small business generalists who are just looking for support information, this is more specific.”

Instant On goes to market entirely through channel partners.

“The small business space is exclusively channel-driven and led for Aruba,” Hollinger said. “There is a big emphasis on enabling partners to be successful.”

The Instant On portfolio is available through all Aruba distribution partners. Product will begin shipping in early July, with a list price starting at $USD 119.