Aerohive Launch Aimed At Growing Education Market

As billions of federal dollars are expected to flow into schools each year to improve wireless and network infrastructure through the U.S. government's E-rate program, Aerohive Networks hopes to gain more traction with the launch of a mobility solution targeted at the educational sector.

The solution, unveiled Tuesday, is aimed at meeting the demand as faster wireless connectivity becomes essential because of the growth of BYOD and paperless learning tools, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said.

"When we look at one of the places where Wi-Fi is becoming an absolute essential and growing very drastically," said Abby Strong, director of product marketing at Aerohive, "it's from the K-12 [education] space, because we're seeing a massive transition from paper textbooks into e-books. ... I think this market is going to get big … and we'll continue to push hard."

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Aerohive unveiled a new 802.11ac access point -- AP130 -- along with its new enterprise-class HiveManager Next Generation cloud platform, a major upgrade from the company's former HiveManager cloud-based management system, according to Strong. The HiveManager NG has improved interface capabilities, real-time client and event monitoring, a Helpdesk-optimization troubleshooting console, better API integration and a simplified user experience for easy onboarding, said Strong.

She said partners will also no longer need to wait for Aerohive's staff to complete paperwork or for the shipment of equipment to close a deal, because the platform is "very self-service."

"[HiveManage NG] makes it easier for our partners to make money selling Aerohive because they don't have to wait for us, we don't hold them up anymore when they're at a customer site," said Strong. "It's really making it easier for the partners to operate and run their business without having to wait for us to process things on the back end."

The AP130, available for a list price of $650, is a high-density, two-stream access point, which Aerohive is touting as the lightest and smallest .11ac AP in the market today. The size and weight of the AP make it ideal for classrooms, according to Strong.

Rob Wentz, vice president of business development at Cumberland Group IT -- an Atlanta-based solution provider and Aerohive partner -- said the new offerings will benefit the channel in the education space by offering end users an easier platform in the HiveManager NG.

"They're making it simple -- that's really what it comes down to with this," said Wentz. "With the complexity that all these devices bring in, this helps simplify that and helps you get your arms around it as a business."

Wentz said schools are having to do more IT administrative work with less staff, while students expect strong Wi-Fi connectivity wherever they go.

Additionally, he's seeing an increase of profitability in the education market because of paperless educational tools such as e-books and interactive white boards, as well as a significant presence of online classes.

Wentz said his company and Aerohive provide networking solutions for a university in Georgia, and he sees firsthand the shifting landscape because of a generation that has grown up with technology at their fingertips.

"With these kids, there's that influx of devices, there's this on-demand idea of 'I want this, and I want it now, and I don't want to wait for it,' " said Wentz.

"They're all bringing multiple devices in, sometimes three or five devices," he said. "It's a different world. These technology companies have to innovate and be looking forward, or else you're going to get left behind."