Aerohive Jumps Into SD-WAN Market With Offering Designed To Out-Simplify Cisco

Aerohive Networks Wednesday unleashed a software-defined WAN offering it said offers simplicity, performance and optimization that competitors in the red-hot market for SD-WAN technology can't match.

Aerohive, already a major software-defined local-area network player, introduced its SD-WAN offering Wednesday, and the Milpitas, Calif., company argues that it is in a position to offer a more unified, easily managed solution than Cisco.

"If you look at Cisco, they're utilizing separate technologies to try for one unified story, and that's cold water for many customers," said Mathew Edwards, Aerohive product marketing chief. "They acquired Viptela. They acquired Meraki, and they're all very independent technologies. Being able to identify what you need for one side of the business or another is going to be technically very challenging for customers, partners and for Cisco themselves."

[Related: New OEM Agreement Puts The Dell EMC Brand On Entire Aerohive Portfolio]

"A lot of companies want that unified story, so if a company has Aerohive Wi-Fi, and Aerohive switching on the corporate side, in the remote offices, they don't want to manage multiple technologies," Edwards said. "It helps manage from corporate through remote sites with a unified approach."

That unified approach allows users or partners to manage Aerohive's SD-WAN offering with a simple single-pane-of-glass interface. The offering includes Aerohive's new XR200P cloud-managed, secure SD-WAN router, a VMware-based virtual VPN gateway appliance, and its Hive Manager cloud management platform.

The routers can be shipped to any site with no configuration, Aerohive said. They'll automatically find the Aerohive cloud and are provisioned automatically. The routers feature "intelligent path selection," which makes sure traffic coming in and out – whether it's from apps, devices or Internet of Things systems – is sent through the appropriate path while being aggregated and monitored. Traffic can be directed based on a user's identity, what apps are being used or other factors.

"The whole aim is to simplify the deployment and support of highly distributed organizations," Edwards said. "It's an enterprise-grade experience regardless of where you are. We really do drive into the identity-based policies of our networks and the organizations that use them. Users, applications, SD-WAN will make decisions on that basis to shape performance. Corporate user, guest user -- we know who you are, what device, what your rights should be, where you're located, and we make decisions based on that information."

Moving into the SD-WAN market requires partners to embrace a services-centric, recurring revenue-based business model, and while many of Aerohive's partners have made that leap, the company still has "a large base" that has not, Edwards said.

"Many partners see the cost of hardware is decreasing, and services are more streamlined," Edwards said. "They're trying to provide an experience to the customers. They can install it and you can manage it yourself, or the partner can acquire the hardware and lease it out to customers for a monthly or yearly fee, but not all partners are there."

Still, Edwards said, "we have the cloud network architecture, the dashboard and tools that make it very easy to implement. Partners can operate in more of an Opex model for customers, and even if partners don't have that capability, they can back up to Synnex, our North America distributor, and just resell the Synnex offering that they rebrand. That gets their toes in the water until they can get fully into the MSP model."

Joe Rittenhouse, president of business development for Converged Technology Professionals, an Aerohive partner based in Crystal Lake, Ill., said jumping into the SD-WAN market is a solid strategic move for Aerohive and its partners as solution providers increasingly seek to adopt an SD-WAN offering.

"More and more providers are trying to grab onto the SD-WAN space, and as more and more M&A activity continues [among solution providers], this is a must-have for the portfolio to stay relevant," Rittenhouse said. "Adding SD-WAN to the mix adds features and functionality that existing clients and new clients will see as a welcome addition to an already established and reliable brand."

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