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Start-Up Aerohive Takes New Tack on WLAN



Aerohive's entry into the enterprise WLAN space could be considered retro in design--a neo-AP. Shunning the wireless controller-switch model of market leaders Aruba Networks and Cisco Systems and leaning toward a "cooperative control architecture," Aerohive highlights the cost and performance challenges of the centralized model brought on by growing scale of wireless networks and the higher speeds possible with the upcoming 802.11n standard. Is this a solution without a problem? Although Colubris, Trapeze Networks and now Meru are transitioning to a local AP switching model, Cisco and Aruba continue to increase market share while tackling and successfully serving even the largest deployments. The multibranch scenario, where controllers contribute a substantial portion of the capital expenditures, demonstrates the most significant cost savings. But in a campus environment where controllers can be appropriately scaled and most of the wireless traffic flows north-south (client to the Internet or data center), do the complexities of a ultra-distributed model, where session-state information, encryption keys and Layer 2/3 topologies need to be exchanged, offset the benefit of shaving latency and jitter by a few milliseconds? Aerohive will need to be at the top of its game if it wants to make a measurable dent in market share, by demonstrating considerable cost advantages, documenting meaningful performance improvements, and backing that all up with consistent and reliable wireless service.
Frank Bulk
Contributing Technology Editor

Aerohive Networks this week launched itself as a company with a new take on wireless LAN architecture that relies not on a wireless controller-switch model but "hives" of access points working cooperatively.

The vendor calls this approach a "cooperative control" wireless LAN access point (CC-AP). Aerohive announced its first products based on this architecture, the HiveAP 20 ag CC-AP and the companion HiveManager Network Management System Appliance.

Aerohive said its architecture eliminates the need for centralized wireless LAN controls, opting for a much more distributed model of APs that actively share control information. The architecture, Aerohive claims, improves performance for very large-scale WLANs that are optimized for voice over wireless LAN and can scale to support 802.11n. It also claims substantial cost savings when compared to conventional controller-based WLAN architectures (see Aerohive White Paper on costs - http://www.aerohive.com/resources/resources.html).

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