Aerohive: Free Version Of Bonjour Gateway For Apple Environments

The problem many enterprises run into with Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad is that Bonjour, a multicast DNS-based tool, is a Layer 2 nonroutable protocol. Practically speaking, that means it's an IT headache to run Bonjour across multiple subnets that exist in corporate enterprise and education networks. So Aerohive released the Bonjour Gateway back in March as a way to enable Apple wireless functions such as AirPlay and AirPrint to run easily across those networks.

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Aerohive's Gateway, which is software running on Aerohive wireless networking products, can be connected out-of-band to enable Bonjour "advertisements" -- the service messages Bonjour uses to prompt, for example, printing with AirPrint -- across each subnet. It works on Aerohive and other vendors' wired and wireless networks, too.

Bonjour Gateway was fully launched in July as a standard feature in Aerohive wireless access points, but now the company plans to give it away as a free VMware-based virtual appliance. Each instance of the free Bonjour Gateway is provisioned and managed by Aerohive's cloud-based HiveManager Online system, and users of the Gateway are given a HiveManager Online account.

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Joel Vincent, Aerohive's director of product marketing, said the easy exposure to Aerohive's user interface and software will create demand for Aerohive products and help the company get its name out as well as any Bonjour-specific marketing campaign would. That will be important as other Bonjour Gateway solutions arrive from larger, better-known wireless competitors such as Cisco, which in July said it would add code that brings the gateway functionality to Cisco WLAN controllers.

"The demand is pent-up, so we're giving the customers a free avenue to do this," Vincent said. "We see this as a way for partners to get customers going with the free version and then add controls later if they so choose. We do get a lot of skepticism for giving it away. Selling one or two APs to a customer doesn't benefit us a whole lot, but giving customers a HiveManager account and exposure to our software, they can see how we work and experience that satisfaction level."

Aerohive, which sells 100 percent through channel partners, has built a market presence behind its so-called cooperative control architecture, a controller-less approach to wireless LAN. It has expanded into cloud-based networking and management and is also widely believed to be at work on a new line of switching products.

The company has taken in substantial venture capital investment since its 2006 founding, and earlier in September announced another round, this time a $22.5 million infusion of mezzanine equity financing. Institutional Venture Partners led the round, which included participation from existing Aerohive investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lightspeed Ventures Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Northern Light and Four Rivers.

In a press release announcing the funding round, Aerohive said it now has more than 5,000 customers and claims it will hit an annualized sales run rate of $100 million before the end of the year.