Partners: Aerohive's New APs And Switches Will Close Gap With Rivals Cisco, Brocade

As wireless vendor consolidation continues, Aerohive Networks on Tuesday unveiled significant upgrades to its networking portfolio by launching new 802.11ac Wave 2 access points alongside a new line of switches. Solution providers say the new hardware will drive more revenue and sales wins against network competitors like Cisco and Brocade Communications.

"Aerohive's current line of switches does lack a few key features when compared to the traditional powerhouses in the wired switching market, like Cisco and Brocade, so we're excited that they released a solution that really closes that gap significantly," said Michael McKerley, chief technology officer of Nashville, Tenn.-based Education Networks of America, a solution provider and Aerohive partner.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based wireless vendor introduced four new cloud-managed enterprise switches -- the SR2208P, SR2224P, SR2324P and SR2348P -- available in a range of port densities from desktop to stacking-capable rack mount. The switches are all manageable through Aerohive's network management system, HiveManager NG.

[Related: Partners: Brocade's Acquisition Of Ruckus Wireless Creates More Formidable Foe To Cisco]

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Aerohive also unveiled its new AP250 and AP245X cloud-managed 802.11ac Wave 2 access points with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and UBS ports, which is intended to enhance location-driven services and additional wireless connection options for the Internet of Things.

"Everything we do right now is contributing to IoT," said Abby Strong, director of product marketing at Aerohive, in an interview with CRN. "With the AP250, we can say, 'Yes, we can connect any type of device that can show up on your network -- whether its Wi-Fi, BLE -- and this truly becomes a hub for any type of device that may need to connect in your network.' "

New Wave 2 benefits include reduced network congestion across wireless networks and lower Wi-Fi power consumption in mobile devices -- both of which bode well for the emerging IoT market.

McKerley said organizations are seeking Wave 2 access point (AP) technology, and with Aerohive's new APs priced at $999, it's already attracting potential customers.

"Aerohive is very cost-effective when compared with Cisco Aironet [Wave 2 APs], and we sell and deploy Aerohive in a lot of places that already have a Cisco wired infrastructure that don't really see the advantage of staying with a Aironet," said McKerley.

Strong said the new AP250 is the only Wave 2 solution that can operate in dual 5GHz transmit mode with uncompromised performance for increased capacity without Power over Ethernet (PoE) upgrades. Administrators can select transmission at 2.4GHz and 5GHz or select dual 5GHz.

Aerohive also unveiled an enhanced version of HiveManager NG. The new release is architected for on-premises deployments of 20,000 APs. McKerley said Aerohive channel partners can offer complete unified wired and wireless cloud network management from a single pane of glass with HiveManager.

"[HiveManager] can be hosted both in the cloud, or in our own cloud -- that's what we do. It really distinguishes them from the [Cisco] Meraki play and helps us really drive forward to meet the more complex demands for our customers," said McKerley. "The feature set that we get, the application visibility and the cost point we're able to deliver really makes it a win for us."

Aerohive's launch comes on the heels of Brocade's announcing plans to acquire wireless vendor Ruckus Wireless for an estimated $1.2 billion. Last year, Hewlett-Packard bought wireless vendor Aruba Networks for $3 billion, while wireless vendor Meru Networks was acquired by security specialist Fortinet.

The consolidation of pure-play wireless network vendors could make Aerohive solutions ever more profitable for channel partners, according to McKerley. He said having a vendor laser-focused on creating Wi-Fi innovation and open standards will benefit partners.

"Their open-standard compliance allows us to fit them more easily into a variety of environments. … That really helps the sale for us when we're moving into an environment where one of these other manufacturers are," said McKerley.

Aerohive also extended its Private Pre-Shared Key functionality, which allows customers to manage secure access for specific users and devices.

Aerohive's AP250 is available later this month, while the AP245X will be unleashed in June. The switches -- SR2208P, SR2224P and SR2324P -- will be available in April for $999, $1,599 and $3,299, respectively. The SR2348P will become available in June for $5,499.