Aerohive Networks will be the Wi-Fi infrastructure provider for the ConnectED program, the federal initiative aimed at providing underserved American students and teachers with next-generation Wi-Fi connectivity and technology in the classroom to improve the learning experience.
The ConnectED program: Wi-Fi connectivity, devices for more students
The ConnectED initiative, which was announced by President Barack Obama last year, will work with technology partners to provide Wi-Fi connectivity, infrastructure, software and devices to selected K-12 schools nationwide. Less than 30% of schools in the United States have the Wi-Fi connectivity necessary for teachers to use contemporary technology like mobile devices for instruction. The ConnectEd initiative aims to provide 99% of American students with access to next-generation broadband and high-speed Wi-Fi by 2017.
Apple was one of the first companies -- along with the likes of Microsoft and Adobe -- to sign on to ConnectED. Apple will be donating $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks and other products to underprivileged U.S. schools nationwide. Aerohive will work with Apple to help schools support their new mobile devices by donating 802.11ac Wi-Fi infrastructure technology, including Aerohive wireless access points, switches and cloud-based management products.
"The schools that will [be a part of ConnectED] are going to be schools that would have otherwise not had an opportunity to leverage these devices and content," said Bill Hoppin, vice president of business development for Aerohive, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. "Aerohive's technology goes beyond connectivity. It can help build a platform that allows schools to better engage students and inspire teachers to not view technology as a distraction."
Managed service provider Education Networks of America (ENA), an Aerohive partner, will be deploying and managing the new Aerohive Wi-Fi 802.11ac networks in each of the Apple-selected schools via its own managed service offering, ENA Air.
Aerohive and ENA are already deploying Wi-Fi infrastructure across the entire state of Idaho, according to Hoppin. "As an installation and deployment partner, ENA offers the additional managed services that schools love -- it relieves the schools of having to do anything at all with their infrastructure, including proactive monitoring, and ongoing management and troubleshooting," Hoppin said.
Aerohive is also integrating with mobile device management vendor JAMF Software to help support Apple devices. The new technology will automate the enrollment and management of new devices, Hoppin said.
In addition to Aerohive and Apple's commitments to the initiative, the Federal Communications Commission will invest $2 billion over the next two years to expand high-speed Internet connectivity for schools and libraries throughout the country to connect an estimated 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and Wi-Fi, along with donated services from carrier partners such as Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.
Aerohive and Apple: A good technical fit
Aerohive's cloud-based approach is a good fit for education customers, or any industry that may not have in-house IT expertise and is looking to offload management. The vendor also has a big focus on application visibility and control capabilities, said John McKnight, vice president of research and analyst services for Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass.
"[Aerohive] can really monitor and understand the application traffic going over the Wi-Fi, as well as the health of the device," he said. Aerohive has developed unique applications specific to their education customers, including a teacher view and student manager function for instructors to have visibility into which students are on the network, and what types of content and network resources they are accessing, he said.
Schools will also benefit from the fact that Aerohive and Apple are also a good match technically, McKnight said. "Aerohive has developed some native support to make it easier to manage and integrate iOS devices and services," he said. Aerohive has its own Bonjour Gateway service designed to meet the requirements of iOS- and OS X-based client devices and to more efficiently manage and control Apple devices and applications -- including AirPrint and AirPlay -- which will come in handy for teachers.
"Our Bonjour Gateway technology integrated into our access points allows devices to connect to Apple TVs and printers," Aerohive's Hoppin said. "The combined capabilities of Aerohive infrastructure plus iOS devices will deliver phenomenal customer experiences, especially specific to education users."