Aruba recently released Instant On, an all-in-one access point solution that promises to simplify, streamline, and secure both wired and wireless networks for business. However, it sounds suspiciously similar to Aruba Instant, which also offers all-in-one connectivity for businesses with complex networking needs. With names nearly the same, it’s easy to get confused between the two solutions. So, what’s the difference, and which one’s right for your business?

It’s all about scale (mostly)

The primary difference between the Instant On and Instant Access Points is who they’re designed for. Aruba has designed Instant On to meet the needs of small businesses, particularly those that don’t employ dedicated IT experts to actively manage their network infrastructure. The Instant range, on the other hand, is focused on meeting larger enterprise needs at scale – which means it’s best handled by IT managers with some network proficiency.

Is Aruba Instant On just a stripped-down version of the company’s well-established enterprise product? Despite being intended for small businesses, Instant On still supports up to 25 access points and as many as 150 users per site, as well as incorporating much of the performance and flexibility that Instant already offers at an enterprise level.


  Aruba Instant On Aruba Instant
Positioning Small businesses (less than 100 users per site) Enterprise branches and mid-size campus (more than 100 users per site)
IT Support Little or no IT staff IT generalist / specialist


Growing at what pace?

Instant On’s features fit particularly well with the needs of small businesses that are transitioning to digital sales/marketing platforms and remote working – the sort that expect to double or triple network capacity without having to worry about upgrading or making changes to their network. These features include:

  • Managing the network anywhere, anytime via a mobile app or cloud portal designed especially for non-technical users
  • One-touch setup for mesh networks and access points – where adding additional access points is as simple as powering on and clicking once
  • No licences, subscriptions, or extra fees of any kind as the business expands its network, with all additional costs absorbed into the hardware purchase itself

These features make growth at speed as painless as possible for smaller businesses, presenting network management and optimisation in simple terms without compromising on performance. For large enterprises, where managing complexity and volume takes priority over the sheer pace of growth, Instant addresses key pain points with higher levels of control and customisation than Instant On. These include much higher thresholds on access points and user devices, as well as broader multi-vendor support and easier upgradability to more advanced mechanisms like controller-based access points.


  Aruba Instant On Aruba Instant
Upgrade Options Right-sized features for small business (single/multisite).

Small networks: 25 Access Points/Site

8 SSIDs (both radio)

Scalable, customizable and upgradable (Controller AP/Cloud)

Mid-large networks: 128 Access Points/Network; 16 SSIDs (per radio)

Site Scale Up to 25 Access Points; 100-150 user devices per site Up to 128 Access Points and 2000 user devices at a site
Management Scale Manage tens of sites with app/cloud portal Manage thousands of sites with Central/Airwave


Security for every season

Despite some variations in security levels between Aruba Instant On and Aruba Instant, both offer built-in security that’s designed to insure data and applications against attack from Day 0. Instant On comes with inbuilt firewalling, web blocking, and user blocking controls that are activated by default to simplify securing the network. Admins can also streamline their networks with tools not available in most comparable solutions from other vendors – such as the ability to regulate Wi-Fi traffic, prioritise voice and video, or dynamically optimise radio frequencies of wireless access points.

Given that as many as 49% of data breaches occur because of human error, simplifying security and the overall user experience for nontechnical users plays a key role in how Instant On minimises cyber risks for small businesses.

Aruba Instant, on the other hand, acknowledges the complex threat landscape facing large enterprises with granular definitions for user roles, context-driven firewall policies (that can filter according to devices, locations, apps, and more), and integration with third-party services like Palo Alto Networks’ dedicated firewalls. Most of these features require more advanced technical knowledge and dedicated IT support, and won’t be missed by smaller businesses which Instant On caters to.


  Aruba Instant On Aruba Instant
Firewall Basic firewall for network-based rules

Web-Blocking; User Blocking

Context driven policy enforcement firewall.

Enforce policy per user, device, location, app and role

User Roles SSID based user roles Detailed user role definition for fine-grained policy management
RF No ClientMatch. ARM enabled with no controls. Advanced RF optimization with ClientMatch and customised configuration
AppRF & WebCC Visibility and blocking for major categories only Fine-grained policies at individual app level
ClearPass Standard Radius interface only ClearPass integration for advanced security and policy enforcement. Integration with third party services like PAN.


Finding the right fit in an instant

Instant On’s combination of scalability and simplicity make it an ideal out-of-the-box solution for small businesses looking for long-term value in their investment without too much fuss. The solution works particularly well across smaller numbers of sites which nevertheless have high demands on bandwidth quality and security like retailers, restaurants, medical centres, online learning, and even remote workers requiring access to business-critical applications – an increasingly common use case in these times.

For enterprises that already have complex multisite footprints, or are expecting to require significant amounts of network customisation and scaling in the near future, the Aruba Instant range offers the more viable solution. When small businesses are scaling upwards to a mid or enterprise sized business, Instant On deployments unfortunately cannot be “upsized” to Instant, and business owners have to purchase new hardware.


  Aruba Instant On Aruba Instant
Future-proof Need for enterprise features or scale will require new hardware. No conversion to Instant Access Points or Controller Access Points Cloud managed. Easy conversion to controller-based Access Points for scale/feature needs.


Keen to scale up your network performance and agility for fast-changing business needs? Get in touch with one of our experts to find out how Aruba Instant On or a range of other solutions can work for you. Or build an Aruba Instant On solution yourself using our ConfigurAIDER at

The Author

Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson is a Product Manager with the Dicker Data Networks Team. An integral part of the team, Mark provides top-notch customer service, sales, product and technical management to customers and vendors alike. Being an excellent communicator, Mark often helps customers navigate the myriad of technology and innovations from vendors, enabling them to make the right choice for their business.