Aerohive Networks introduced its first 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi access points (APs) this week (5 April 2016), along with a new line of switches and an updated release of its HiveManager NG cloud-based management platform. The company said the new solutions are aimed at providing a highly adaptable wireless infrastructure for connected enterprises to enable them to address escalating connectivity demands.
AP250 and AP245X 802.11ac access points
The new AP250 and the AP245X cloud-managed 802.11ac Wave 2 access points are said to be the first to deliver ‘enterprise-class capabilities and uncompromised wireless functionality while operating on existing standard wired infrastructure of 802.af Power over Ethernet (PoE)’.
The access points also feature integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and both the AP250 and the AP245X are built on Aerohive’s intelligent RF-IQ antenna and radio technology. RF-IQ incorporates distributed control radio intelligence, such as automated channel and power selection, load balancing, band steering, and other capabilities that enable complex radio functionality.
The AP250 is largely designed for indoor locations, while the AP245X delivers Wave 2 with external antennas and a rugged design for challenging environments, such as warehouses, manufacturing floors, and extreme temperature environments.
Speaking to Wireless, Abby Strong, Director of Product Marketing at Aerohive, said: ‘The importance of these new APs is not just the Wave 2 capability, which in our view it is just the evolution of the next generation of chipsets. There is not a lot of proof that people can utilise Wave 2 capabilities much yet, but what the chipset does is allow us to offer a very adaptable AP.
‘Our software selectable radios mean the APs can support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz or dual 5G and when running in Wave 2 mode they can support three full streams of multi user MIMO (MU-MIMO).’
Strong added that when integrated into the overall network design the selection of the dual 5GHz mode can effectively double network capacity. In addition, the AP250 is the only Wave 2 and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solution that can operate in dual 5GHz mode with uncompromised performance for increased capacity, without PoE switch upgrades.
‘Other 802.11ac APs require a power upgrade to the PoE Plus standard,’ explained Strong, ‘but ours can run full 802.11ac Wave 2 performance and BLE on existing 802.11af power budget infrastructure, which means that customers can deploy them without having to upgrade their infrastructure.’
Aerohive has a patent-pending on its RF-IQ antenna and the ‘first-of-its-kind network technology’, which provide polarisation and spatial diversity. This is what ensures uncompromised performance under 802.11af power budget even in dual 5GHz mode.
‘Our goal with this is that customers will have a lot of different types of devices showing up on their network, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices. We have already built a lot of software functionality into our system to cope with IoT and the kinds of numbers of devices likely to be involved. This time we have built in more capability to our hardware too,’ said Strong.
Aerohive has also integrated BLE into the AP so it can operate either as a beacon itself or as a hub for other BLE devices - in a retail store, for example. Previously, APs came with a USB port into which a BLE beacon could be plugged, but now the functionality is integrated into the AP itself.
Strong added that the APs retain the USB port enabling any other radio to be plugged into it to support other devices or applications like IoT lighting or smart thermostats, for example. ‘You can plug any kind of connectivity they need into our AP to power whatever kinds of IoT devices you want. The Wi-Fi network then enables you to monitor and control the devices and see how they are performing in real time.’
Updated HiveManager NG platform
The new release of Aerohive’s HiveManager NG network management platform, which is available for private or public cloud deployment, is now architected for on-premises deployments of up to 20,000 access points. The platform offers the centralised management and all the functionality enterprises need, as well as streamlined user experience and simplified troubleshooting.
‘We have really increased the scale of the on-premise version,’ said Strong. ‘That’s the capex choice where the customer can install the on-premise version and manage their network and devices themselves. Or, there is the opex version where we can manage the network and devices for them in the cloud. The point is, it is up to them how they want to spend their money and we give them the choice.’
New enterprise switches
Aerohive is also introducing four new cloud-managed enterprise switches available in a range of port densities, from desktop to stacking-capable rack mount:
• Fanless, conference room SR2208P - 8 PoE/PoE+ GigE ports with 124W PoE
• Enterprise-class entry level SR2224P - 24 PoE/PoE+ GigE ports with 180W PoE
• Enterprise-class premium SR2324P - 24 PoE/PoE+ GigE ports with 370W PoE
• Enterprise-class premium SR2348P - 48 PoE/PoE+ GigE ports with 740W PoE.
The new switches are managed through HiveManager NG and together with Aerohive’s access points, these new switches enable complete unified wired and wireless cloud network management from a single pane of glass with improved visibility, centralised control, and reduced cost and complexity, the company said.
Strong commented: ‘These are all things our customers have been asking for for a long time. The switches are for deployment at the access layer; we are not going after core switching. It is aimed at customers who need to upgrade their switch infrastructure, perhaps because they need more power, and they provide a great option for supporting a single unified wired/wireless infrastructure by making it a seamless experience. That unified approach has always been part of our strategy.’
Private Pre-Shared Key (PPSK) functionality
Aerohive has also extended its unique Private Pre-Shared Key (PPSK) functionality, which enables customers to manage secure access for specific users and IoT devices. This functionality is important for ease of onboarding and control of Bring Your Own (BYO) and IoT devices. PPSK can now support 100,000 keys in a single instance.
Looking ahead, Strong said: ‘We are very excited about the great Wi-Fi infrastructure we are announcing. We have provided a unique architecture since we started in 2007, but these are just what connects the devices together. What is exciting now is what you can do once you are connected. We’ve built out our API cloud infrastructure to allow customers to build out value on top of the infrastructure.’
By leveraging the data capture on device location, position and time (among other touchpoints) that the Wi-Fi network enables, and using Aerohive’s cloud platform to analyse that data, customers can either implement Aerohive apps or develop their own using the APIs provided by Aerohive to develop location based services, identity services and monitoring services.
As an example, Strong points to one Aerohive customer that has developed an app designed to get rid of time cards. ‘It tracks staff time and attendance by registering when they come in to work and connect to the network. It monitors when they generate traffic, what they were they doing and when.
‘I think IoT is something you are going to hear a lot more about from vendors and you will see a lot more of this kind of thing from us this year. Yes, we need to provide new hardware, but what the market is really about now is what we can build on top of it – the apps and insights that provide new services,’ observed Strong.
‘This also helps our channel partners too,’ she pointed out. ‘If the APs themselves become subject to a price war then how do partners build revenue? They will do it through apps and additional services.’
Pricing and availability
• First released in March 2016, the Aerohive AP250 is available today for £703
• Aerohive’s AP245X will be available in June for £703; antennas sold separately
• HiveManager NG for public cloud deployment is available today and can be purchased with 1-, 3-, or 5-year subscription terms. 1-year plans start at £81 per access point
• HiveManager NG Virtual Appliance for private cloud deployment is available today with a perpetual license fee per access point, and a 1-, 3-, or 5-year support contract per device
• Aerohive’s SR2208P, SR2224P, and SR2324P will be available in April for £703, £1,256, and £2,322, respectively
• Aerohive’s SR2348P will be available in June for £3,871.
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