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Aerohive, Verizon team up for cloud-managed Wi-Fi retail

Aerohive and Verizon are offering an all-inclusive cloud-managed Wi-Fi networking offering for retail customers, backed by Verizon's LTE network.

Aerohive Networks and Verizon Wireless have teamed up to offer a new cloud-managed "network in a box" product for retail customers that combines Aerohive's routing, switching, security and Wi-Fi technology, backed by embedded Verizon LTE technology for primary or backup WAN connectivity.

Mobility has blurred the line between private WAN connectivity and public Internet access, prompting many enterprises to adopt a hybrid approach to wide area networking, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, based in Westminster, Mass. "This offering is very well-aligned with the concept of the hybrid WAN, and it's good to see a public network provider -- Verizon -- working with a network infrastructure provider for the creation of an all-in-one solution so customers don't have to cobble one together themselves," he said.

Aerohive's cloud managed Wi-Fi expertise pairs with Verizon's LTE technology

The new "network-in-box" offering -- the new Aerohive BR200-LTE-VZ Wi-Fi Router -- provides retailers and branch offices with Wi-Fi, switching, routing, and firewall for internal and guest access, as well as high-speed WAN connectivity to headquarters based on Verizon's LTE technology, said Bill Hoppin, Aerohive's vice president of business development.

Regardless of the size and number of stores a retailer has, each one will need security, Wi-Fi, and switching and routing elements. "This offering represents a complete integration of all three of those elements in a single box -- a complete self-contained network," Hoppin said. The integration of Verizon's LTE technology via a SIM card inside the box also gives retail customers instant primary or backup WAN connectivity, he said.

Retail customers can purchase and deploy a box from Aerohive or a joint Aerohive/Verizon. They can also buy it from a managed service provider partner in a pay-as-you-go model, Hoppin said. "These payment and [deployment] models offer a level of convenience that is attractive to retail customers," he said. "To relieve them of any burden around infrastructure and IT is really helpful, and gives businesses more time to engage with their customers."

The new product offering goes hand-in-hand with Aerohive's Personal Engagement Platform, a cloud-based tool that provides retail customers with analytics that provide insight into network and application usage. The combination of the new router and the Personal Engagement Platform allows retailers to manage each store's network centrally from the cloud, from which they can also design, test and deploy new customer loyalty offerings and mobile applications quickly, Aerohive said. The cloud management features also remove challenges associated with securing each network and its many connected devices, Hoppin said.

"From an IT perspective, this [offering] is very easy to deploy," said Andre Kindness, senior analyst for Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass. "When you think of a large retailer with a lot of store locations, it makes their lives easier to send out a box to their site and have someone just plug in [the box, which calls home and gets all its information from the cloud rather than looking to the local carrier for help -- it's a very elegant solution," he said.

Cloud managed Wi-Fi vendors teaming up with carriers

As businesses move further into the cloud, traffic that once never left the LAN now crosses into the WAN and public Internet. As a result, more carriers will be teaming up with network infrastructure providers, Kindness said. And Wi-Fi vendors that offer cloud managed wireless products have a natural synergy with carriers that make working together easy. "The [wireless] vendors that use cloud-based technology have perfect platforms to make this happen because [customers] don't have to have a lot of equipment on-site. It's not a controller-based system, and [the vendor] has already created something that is multi-tenant," he said.

And from the user perspective, retailers are opening more stores and the network is becoming harder to manage with too many pieces and providers in the mix. The last thing customers -- especially those in the retail and hospitality space -- want is more hardware, Kindness said. "These businesses are looking for much more condensed pieces of hardware that support multiple functions," he said.

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

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