HPE Aruba ‘Doubles Down’ On SMB Networking With Additions To Instant On Series

“We are really that one-stop-shop for end customers, so we really want to make sure that we deliver the entire SMB networking infrastructure portfolio to them, rather than just an access point, just a switch, or just management,” HPE Aruba VP of Global SMB Amol Mitra tells CRN.


HPE Aruba Networking has been quietly working on its Instant On sub brand, a portfolio of products targeting small to midsized businesses. The historically enterprise-focused networking specialist has created an identity for the SMB customer segment that is centered on cloud-based networking that easy to use, at the right price point, according to the company.

“We’ve been at this for four years and now we’re really doubling down on this business,” Amol Mitra, HPE Aruba’s vice president and general manager of global SMB, told CRN.

HPE Aruba, which does 100 percent of its SMB business through the channel, has unveiled a new access point and switch to join the Instant On product family as the company continues to build out the portfolio.

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[Related: New HPE Aruba Channel Chief On How Partner Experience Gives Her An ‘Outside In’ View: Exclusive]

Post-COVID, HPE Aruba has seen a resurgence in the SMB segment with high customer demand. It’s a trend that’s opening up a big area of opportunity for channel partners since SMB networking is entirely channel-fulfilled, delivered and supported, Mitra said.

“We really want to propel the success we’ve already had in this space even further,” he said. “Our entire focus is to make sure that our channel partners are successful.”

According to research firm IDC, 40 percent of SMBs will upgrade their connectivity by the end of this calendar year. The majority of these customers say that cloud-managed networking is key for flexibility, ease of use and remote management, Mitra said.

“If you look at what customers in this space are looking for, it’s quite similar to the enterprise space, honestly. Most SMB companies want to upgrade their infrastructure because they’re seeing a huge data explosion and they’re seeing [things like] video streaming. If you look at restaurants, small boutique hotels, mom and pop shops, etc., these customers are looking at how to upgrade the existing infrastructure to get better performance to get higher availability,” Mitra said.

For channel partners, the SMB space presents a potential “breeding ground” of loyal customers. Partners can add their own management services around the Instant On portfolio, Mitra said.

“We are really that one-stop-shop for end customers, so we really want to make sure that we deliver the entire SMB networking infrastructure portfolio to them, rather than just an access point, just a switch, or just management,” he said. “Because this portfolio is simple, secure and smart, [partners] really have that competitive advantage with not only a single stop shop, but because it’s cloud-based, there is a different level of loyalty you get, and also a different level of advantage their customers would get with having the agility and flexibility of cloud.”

The New Hardware

The Aruba Instant On brand focuses on the needs of the SMBs, or businesses with less than 500 employees. The Instant On wireless portfolio includes five indoor access points, one desk-mounted access point, and one outdoor access point. The Instant On wired portfolio includes one unmanaged switch series, two smart managed switch series, and one smart managed and stackable switch series.

Unlike HPE Aruba’s enterprise portfolio, which uses Aruba Central for cloud management, the Instant On portfolio can be managed via the Instant On mobile app and cloud-based web portal.

HPE Aruba this week revealed a new access point and switch as it expands its SMB networking focus, Mitra said.

The latest AP22D is a Wi-Fi 6 certified, all in one wireless access point, switch and a gateway function in a single box. It features a 2.5 gigabit uplink port to support end user devices, such as printers, phones, and security cameras. The latest access point includes HPE Aruba’s security features, Mitra said.

“We’ve taken our enterprise-grade security and moved it into this custom SMB product,” he said.

The company also unveiled a new switch joining the 1960 smart managed and stackable switch series. The new switch offers 2.5GbEW ports for high bandwidth needs and to help power high performance workstations of IoT devices, the company said.

“[The new switch] helps with high availability, scalability and expanding as SMB environments grow. As our customers grow, they don’t have to install another switch by logging into the switch and configuring and managing, you can just add it to the stack,” Mitra said.