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Lee H. Badman
Lee H. Badman Network Computing Blogger

Aerohive Launches Cloud-Managed Switches

Aerohive Networks widens the field of cloud-managed switching, which has largely been ruled by Meraki. Aerohive's three new switches unify both wired and wireless network access.

This week Aerohive announced a line of wired Ethernet switches to add to its portfolio of WLAN APs. The new switches, called the SR-series, are managed via the cloud. With this move, Aerohive joins other industry players, including Cisco and Meraki (now owned by Cisco) that offer both wired and WLAN products with a unified management console.

With three initial switches, Aerohive targets branch, midsize and enterprise environments. From the SR2024, which features eight Power over Ethernet ports and a single power supply, to the SR2148P, which has 48 Gbit Ethernet ports and four 10 Gbit Ethernet ports and a dual-power supply option, Aerohive's new line competes well with Meraki's current catalog. (For more on cloud-managed WLANs, check out our buyer's guide, which has details on six vendors. The report is free with registration.)

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Aerohive also announced a rework of its HiveManager dashboard, which allows for great templating flexibility for wireless access points and switches. Build a profile, connect a new switch (or hundreds of them), give it a configuration, and send it out the door for turn-key deployment.

Built-in visibility and control features mean additional boxes are not required to tame user traffic and to make sure the important stuff gets top priority. User context is easily defined and enforced though HiveManager, with as many options as you choose to cook up for employees, BYOD and guests.

I use both Meraki and Aerohive in my day job. Though the two product sets are not quite apples to apples, Meraki's policy and management tools are very good, and they are included at no extra cost. However, Aerohive's move toward context-based control, QoS and related features appears to go deeper than Meraki's, based on a briefing I received from Aerohive.

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That said, I'm glad that the HiveManager interface is getting a do-over, which will be delivered free to Aerohive customers in the near future. Compared to Meraki, my current HiveManager is clunky in spots, odd in other spots, and sometimes makes me question my own capabilities as a network professional as I just don't get parts of it. The new version seems much easier to digest and use, which is important to a product line that will be marketed heavily to environments with limited IT staff.

The Bonjour gateway functionality remains as part of Aerohive's product and service portfolio, along with VPN, routing and firewalling capabilities. The new SR-series switches can work like Meraki's MX-series security appliances or as dedicated Ethernet switches.

Cisco's recent purchase of Meraki validates the cloud-managed unified networking paradigm. Aerohive's expansion into access switches keeps the pot bubbling as it brings cloud-managed networking closer to maturity. The trend toward unified, policy-based, seven-layer visibility on the LAN and WLAN is a great development for customers, and it provides options that many of us only dreamed of just a few years ago.



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