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Aerohive cloud to combine Wi-Fi and SD-WAN

Early next year, the Aerohive cloud-managed wireless LAN will include SD-WAN. Analysts said the vendor is adding a necessary feature to compete with Cisco Meraki.

Aerohive Networks, a cloud-controlled wireless LAN provider, plans to launch in January an SD-WAN product aimed at retail chains, healthcare providers and other organizations with a large number of small- to midsize branch offices.

Aerohive, which announced its intentions this week, said it would combine the SD-WAN offering with its existing WLAN products. In a single Aerohive cloud-managed product, the union would deliver a Wi-Fi network, a Layer 3 VPN gateway and a router called the XR200P.

Aerohive needs the above combination to stay even with its largest competitor, Cisco. The latter's Meraki brand, which competes head-to-head with Aerohive, is already used as a "low-end" SD-WAN, said John Burke, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. Service providers, such as Comcast, also offer SD-WAN with Wi-Fi.

"Adding SD-WAN functionality to the portfolio is a very good idea," Burke said of Aerohive.

Aerohive's SD-WAN features are similar to what's already available from other vendors. Companies, for example, can choose the path traffic takes according to the originating application. Options include steering packets to the corporate VPN, to a whitelisted software as a service or to a cloud security gateway for further examination.

Aerohive cloud features

Other Aerohive cloud-provided features include the following:

  • link-state monitoring and automated remediation when a connection fails;
  • the ability to set security based on user group and the client OS, MAC address and location;
  • automated provisioning of SD-WAN routers installed at locations; and
  • network troubleshooting tools and reporting on links and connected network devices, VPN tunnel latency, throughput and uptime metrics.

Aerohive's highest selling point is a single management console for SD-WAN and Wi-Fi, said Craig Mathias, an analyst for wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group, based in Ashland, Mass.

"The potential for cost savings is enhanced via improved visibility, reliability and operations-staff productivity," he said.

Nevertheless, Aerohive will enter a market with more than three dozen competitors. Consolidation is underway, as large vendors add SD-WAN to their portfolios to tap into a fast-growing market. This year's examples include Cisco acquiring Viptela and VMware announcing plans to swallow VeloCloud.

Over the next four years, SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow 69.6% annually, reaching $8.05 billion in 2021, according to IDC.

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