ArubaOS 8 Introduction

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is the first article in a series of articles, where I talk about the new ArubaOS 8 for the WLAN controller. This is the ArubaOS 8 introduction article, to give an overview of the new features in ArubaOS 8, which I cover in later posts in much more detail.

I’m running ArubaOS 8 for over a year now in my lab. In some posts, I already have shared some screenshots from the new ArubaOS version.

In this article, I give a short overview of the new operating system for the WLAN controller. In later posts, I dig much deeper into the features of this new version. All other articles I write in the future will only contain explanations for ArubaOS version 8.

ArubaOS 8 is the brand new operating system for Aruba controller. It is designed and developed for the current and future requirements for wireless networks. So, let’s dig deeper into the new features with ArubaOS 8.

Naming Conventions

With ArubaOS 8, the controller modes get a new name. To help you with those names, I start with the small overview of what is new with ArubaOS 8 and what has just a different name.

Mobility Master

The Mobility Master is the heard of the new version. It is comparable to the Master Controller from version 6.x. The Mobility Master is running as a virtual machine only. It cannot terminate Access Points, nor handle user traffic. The Mobility Master is only for management and monitoring. It runs the central license server. This is on by default. You do all configuration tasks on the Mobility Master.


In ArubaOS 8, the standalone mode is also possible. In this mode, the standalone controller does not need a Mobility Master.

Managed Device

A Managed Device is a controller, connected to a Mobility Master. The Managed Device handles all the Access Points and user traffic. It is comparable to a local controller or branch controller in 6.x.

Zero Touch Provisioning

A new feature in ArubaOS 8 is the ZTP functionality for the controllers. With ArubaOS 8 you can deploy new controller without touching them, by just provide  DHCP, DNS and access to Activate to the controller to direct the controller to the Mobility Master. The Mobility Master has the full configuration for the device, including the physical port configurations and IP configurations. No need to ever connect directly to the controller. This is very beneficial in deployments with vast amounts of controllers, e.g. for branch deployments.

Hierarchical Configuration Model

The new configuration model makes ZTP only possible. This new model is hierarchical. This means you have different layer for configurations. You have global configurations, group based configurations, and device based configurations. This makes the management and the configurations for e.g. different branches very handy.

Software Updates

In previous versions of ArubaOS, all controller in a master local construct needed to have the same software version. With ArubaOS 8, You can run different software versions within the architecture. Your Mobility Master can have a different version as your Managed Devices. The version of the AP’s and the Managed Devices will have to match. But the option to have different software versions between the controllers allow for smooth upgrades and testing before upgrading the whole campus.


From my point of view, the most beneficial feature in ArubaOS 8 is the Cluster feature. The Cluster feature allows up to 12 controllers to work together as one entity. In a Cluster, all controllers need to run the same software version. One AP is adopted by one specific controller. But all AP’s are balanced between the controllers in the cluster. This is also true for the clients. Clients can terminate on a different controller than the AP, they are connected to. This makes it very scalable and guarantees optimal performance for all users. As all AP’s are connected to all controllers in the cluster, failure of one controller has no impact on the overall system. The AP’s, connected to this controller, will simply load balance to a different controller in the cluster. The same is true for the users. This is real hitless failover.

Further Reading

Below is a list of posts with deeper information. Feel free to read them as well. If you miss something, let me know, so I can create it.

Firmware Update with AOS8 – Aruba OS 8
Master Standby with ArubaOS 8

Those are the main benefits of ArubaOS 8. There are more and I will touch most of them in separate posts.

If you have questions to ArubaOS 8 please leave me a comment below and I do my very best to find an answer for you. If you want to give feedback, leave a comment below. So whatever you do, leave a comment below 

2 thoughts on “ArubaOS 8 Introduction”

  1. Hi,
    We have aruba 7210 running but we want to upgrade to 8.x.x.x im not sure what is the version specifically we should target in the 8.x range.If so,am i reading this correct that we will need to have a Mobility Master VM provisioned for this as a pre req??

    We have a active standby setup as FYI.

    • Hi Naila,

      For this kind of project, I would contact your partner or Aruba contact, as they know your environment much better than I do. But here are some general thoughts on this.

      If you like to upgrade to 8.x you will first check what software your AP’s support. Normally and as of today I recommend 8.10.x but it could be, that your AP’s will not support this, so I would recommend the latest version your APs support.

      Using a Mobility Master is not hard requirement but only with a Mobility Master you can run a cluster, which is the recommended setup.

      Active-Standby is not a supported setup anymore.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.