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Aerohive Wi-Fi: New dual 802.11ac/n APs enable phased upgrade

Aerohive announces two 802.11ac-ready access points that support incremental network upgrades from 802.11n, decentralized network intelligence.

Aerohive Networks has announced two new Wi-Fi access points designed for phased transitions from 802.11n to 802.11ac. The new access points are designed to help enterprises upgrade their wireless networks without ripping out and replacing old access points.

The AP370 and AP390 are each dual-radio 802.11ac and 802.11n access points. The AP370 has internal antennas, and the AP390 is equipped with external antennas for harsher indoor environments -- such as higher temperatures, said Joel Vincent, director of product marketing for Aerohive. Both access points can be supported on Aerohive's HiveManager management platform.

The 802.11ac standard, or Gigabyte Wi-Fi, was crafted with high-capacity needs in mind. While some denser areas within an enterprise's campus environment could benefit from 802.11ac, the majority of businesses are not ready to abandon 802.11n. "Enterprises don't necessarily need a wholesale upgrade of their entire network -- they need a simple, phased approach," Vincent said.

Because the 802.11ac standard only supports the 5 GHz frequency band, enterprises won't be able to abandon legacy Wi-Fi standards right away Many networks still exclusively use the 2.4 GHz frequency band that the .11n standard supports because of devices that still only have 2.4 GHz antennas, said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure research at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

"Using 802.11n in conjunction with [802.11ac] is going to be a reality for the foreseeable future," Mehra said. "If you are an end user or a vendor, you have to have a strategy that allows you to mix and match and support both standards."

Aerohive Wi-Fi: Wireless without a controller

Aerohive is hoping that its controller-less wireless LAN architecture will appeal to adopters of 802.11ac who might find the centralized control offered by most of their competitors too slow, as Wi-Fi standards become faster and as users expect higher speeds.

"All the data coming in from every access point to one central point of inspection is really asking that box to do a lot, and that can slow down the network," Vincent said. Enterprises will have to decide whether to distribute their architecture or upgrade to a faster controller as they roll standards -- such as 802.11ac -- into their environments.

Aerohive access points -- including the new AP370 and AP390 -- have onboard intelligence and control capabilities, can auto-discover the network, and determine which access point is the "master" or has the controller function, IDC's Mehra said.

"It's easy for IT to augment or make changes to the network with Aerohive, because its access points are able to learn as they go and make adjustments automatically," he said.

As enterprises expand their .11ac deployments, they can drop in new access points that are equipped with their own intelligence, Aerohive's Vincent said.

The AP370 and AP390 were announced at Interop in New York and are now commercially available.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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