Aerohive Networks Teams With Apple To Drive Obama's ConnectED Program

Aerohive Networks said Tuesday it's joining President Barack Obama's ConnectED initiative, aimed at bringing technology and connectivity services to K-12 classrooms across the United States.

Aerohive, which represents the first Wi-Fi vendor to join ConnectED, specifically is offering schools its 802.11ac wireless access points, access switches and its HiveManager cloud-based management system.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company is also joining forces with Apple, another supporter of ConnectED. Through the initiative, Apple has committed to donating $100 million in iPads, MacBooks and other products, including its content and professional development tools.

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Aerohive said it will provide the wireless connectivity for each school receiving those Apple devices through the ConnectED program.

According to Bill Hoppin, vice president of business development at Aerohive, teaming up with Apple on the ConnectED program seemed like a natural fit, given the existing partnership between the two companies. Last year, Apple starting offering some of Aerohive's products through the Apple online store, while Aerohive for years has offered "Bonjour Gateway," software that helps Apple's wireless AirPlay and AirPrint functions run more smoothly across enterprise networks.

"We have noticed over the past few years that we are often deployed alongside Apple in these schools," Hoppin said. "We have put, and will continue to put, capabilities into our products so that Apple customers get the best experience."

Hoppin said all of Aerohive's ConnectED implementations will be done by its partner and managed service provider, Education Networks of America (ENA). He said in addition to helping deploy Aerohive's technology, ENA will provide schools with ENA Air, a turnkey managed services offering for wireless infrastructures.

Michael McKerley, chief technology officer at ENA, said his company feels honored to be part of the ConnectED initiative, and gave kudos to Apple and Aerohive for joining, as well.

For his part, McKerley said ENA's main focus is on providing complete, end-to-end wireless infrastructure management to schools, allowing them to turn their attention to where it's most needed: the classroom.

"We are in the background making sure that all the plumbing and everything that makes the connectivity possible is happening seamlessly," McKerley told CRN. "There are a ton of schools that simply don’t have the engineering skills available to them or don’t want their technicians spending time on it. They would rather spend that time on integrating technology into their classrooms."

Rolled out by President Obama in June 2013, the ConnectED initiative is designed to put technology in the hands of all K-12 students and teachers, regardless of a school's income or location. According to the ConnectED website, fewer than 30 percent of America's schools have the broadband capabilities needed to deploy new technologies, such as Apple devices, in their classrooms.

Through the ConnectED program, the goal is to grow that number to 99 percent by the year 2017.

Hoppin said the education market, in general, represents a major opportunity for both Aerohive, which went public in March, and its channel.

"We are finding the opportunity to improve infrastructure in education is significant going forward. It's not like we are on the tail end of upgrading these schools so they can adopt the current technologies." Hoppin said. "There is an awful lot of opportunity in bringing the infrastructure in these environments up to speed, and that's not only in K-12, but in higher-ed, community colleges -- all across the board."

McKerley agreed.

"It's growing really fast for us," he said, adding that the ENA Air service has been deployed at more than 240 facilities, most of them schools, since its launch last July.

In addition to Apple and Aerohive, other technology vendors participating in the ConnectED initiative include Microsoft, Adobe, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.