The software-defined WAN market remains red-hot, and the list of vendors contending for a piece of it grows longer all the time. In addition to the startups that pioneered the space, established networking vendors have added SD-WAN capabilities, and service providers have struck deals with SD-WAN vendors to broaden their portfolios. Now add Aerohive Networks, best known for its cloud-managed WiFi products, to the list.
The company said it's developed software-defined WAN technology that provides unique capabilities and extends its cloud-managed platform from the LAN to the WAN. Executives are undaunted by the crowded market.
"We're not aiming to be a 'me-too' SD-WAN vendor," Milind Pansare, Aerohive strategic marketing director, told me in an interview.
Like other SD-WAN technologies, Aerohive's product aims to simplify the WAN and reduce costs by enabling policy-based intelligent path selection, application optimization, and link quality monitoring. Companies have the flexibility of using different kinds of WAN links to reduce reliance on expensive MPLS connectivity.
In addition to application-based policies, Aerohive supports user-based policies, which Norival Figueira, director of product management at the company, told me is unique. That allows companies to implement fine-grained policies for path selection based on a user's identity and device. These "identity-driven" policies can apply to internet of things devices too, Pansare said.
Management of the SD-WAN is performed through the same cloud-based management platform Aerohive provides for its wired and wireless LAN products, HiveManager NG. Aerohive sells campus switches in addition to wireless access points, and calls its cloud-managed approach software-defined LAN.
Aerohive's SD-WAN has three pieces: the XR200P router that's installed at remote locations, a virtual VPN gateway, and HiveManager. The virtual VPN gateway creates encrypted layer 3 tunnels from the routers and hands off the traffic to data center switches at a company's headquarters. HiveManager NG automatically pushes out configurations to the remote sites.
The product is designed as "zero-touch," so that companies can easily and quickly deploy it without requiring expertise at each branch office.
HiveManager provides unified cloud management for LAN and WAN and works in either a public or private cloud model, Pansare said. The software is available hosted in the public cloud by Aerohive or customers can deploy it on a VM behind their firewall.
Pansare said Aerohive started working on its SD-WAN several months ago, when it began refreshing a branch router that had some SD-WAN capabilities.
The XR200P will be available in January; right now it costs $699, but Pansare said it may wind up being less. The virtual VPN Gateway costs $2,999.
IDC predicts that by mid-2020, SD-WAN will be a mainstream foundation technology, as an "enabler of edge computing." The SD-WAN market will represent more than $6 billion in spending on infrastructure and managed services by 2020, according to IDC.
Earlier this week, IHS Markit released third-quarter research showing VeloCloud, which VMware plans to acquire, as the leading SD-WAN vendor.
It's hard to say how Aerohive's SD-WAN product will fare in the busy space, but the entry of a cloud WiFi specialist is intriguing.