Aerohive: Buzzing with a new App Platform

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Aerohive just announced their new next-generation platform. Their apiaries are buzzing with excitement for the new APIs and apps for their APs (access points). This platform includes:

  • HiveManager NG (next generation), a unified network management planning and troubleshooting system.
  • New solutions for BYOD and guest management. HiveManager NG now has guest access included, and has a new Personal Device Access solution for self-service onboarding.
  • A new application platform that includes a developer portal, APIs, and reference apps to enable the creation of new apps.

Application platform is the most interesting portion for me. Aerohive, which has a beehive marketing theme, creates wireless access points and a cloud controller that can be deployed in a public cloud or on-premises.

The application platform is exciting since it opens up the platform to new possibilities that are relevant to end-user specific use cases, and enables stronger ties with their partners.

Platform

There are Aerohive and 3rd party hardware devices at the bottom layer. Sitting atop is their network, which supports a distributed processing layer with app, user, monitoring data, device onboarding, and event and alarm processing. There is a big data store for this data, which in turn supports a services layer with authentication, APIs, and single sign-on capabilities. This is in service of the top layer, which supports the end–users. This top layer has:

  • HiveManager NG
  • Guest and BYOD access controls
  • An application ecosystem that can run a variety of apps that are written with this API

Why we need this

End-users reside at the campus edge of the network, and today campus networking is driven by Wi-Fi. End-users have complex and varied needs dependent on industry, behavior, and locations. The variety of network use cases and applications vary from the mostly uniform nature of data center networking.

Therefore it is a great move to enable the creation of apps for their wireless controller since 3rd parties can support new uses of the wireless endpoints with customized applications. It’s difficult for a company such as Aerohive to anticipate all these uses and include them within HiveManager or to work closely with partners to integrate their apps, so it makes sense to open up an API to enable the creation of new apps that plug in this platform.

In the same way that it was hard to predict the evolution of apps when the first smartphones were introduced, it is difficult to predict what sort of creativity can be unleashed for 3rdparty apps that can leverage the data available from their Wi-Fi platform. Just as we were surprised with mobile apps, I think the development of Wi-Fi apps may be just as creative.

Examples and business benefits

The most obvious use case for Wi-Fi apps is data analytics, such as to assist in presence or location sensitive apps. Firms such as Cloud4Wi or Euclid are support industries as varied as retail, hospitality, health care, or education. This can range from sending appropriate promotions to end-customers’ phones (if you are close to a particular department in a large store, you'll be told of new merchandise arrivals) to rewarding customer loyalty by identifying behavior based on their location. Mobile device management such as AirWatch or JAMF can control and inventory devices to provide better enterprise BYOD management. Eventually, as 3rd parties write more apps, they will be showcased in AeroHive's HiveStore in Spring 2016, which will provide low friction distribution of applications.

The business benefit of this app platform for customers is two fold: 1) Better use of their Wi-Fi AP infrastructure with apps designed for the use cases 2) Possible better integration with existing campus networking platform solutions, such as those from Brocade’s Open Mobility program and Juniper’s Unite architecture.

Supporting application development velocity is important today, and this program is a great step toward supporting a 3rd party ecosystem.

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Topics: Networking