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New Wi-Fi routers, cloud services simplify branch networks

Aerohive's branch solution holds down costs, extends security

By , Network World
November 16, 2011 08:41 AM ET

Network World - Aerohive Networks has unveiled a set of products and services for small, remote, or branch office wireless networking. The new "Branch on Demand" product line includes low-cost Wi-Fi routers, coupled with expanded cloud-based VPN termination and security services.

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The new product line includes a pair of Wi-Fi routers, with optional 3G/4G WAN connectivity, a cloud VPN termination service running on VMware, and the ability to tie into cloud security offerings from Websense and Baracuda Networks. The result, according to company executives, is a full Layer 3 network with local DHCP and DNS services, along with Areohive's "Cloud Proxy" to support Layer 4-7 security.

And the starting price for all of it, via the initial low-end router, is $99 yearly per office.

Rival Aruba Networks was among the first to offer a low-cost branch WLAN model, and Meraki the first to introduce a cloud-based WLAN management product, says Lisa Phifer, principal at networking consultancy Core Competence. "But in Branch-on-Demand [BoD], Aerohive seems to have harnessed its cloud management experience and infrastructure to add value, such as cloud-based security and VPN [termination], without adding cost," Phifer says. "Further, from what I can see, they've wrapped BoD in a GUI that makes branch office network addressing and routing surprisingly easy."

Aerohive was founded to eliminate the use of conventional, standalone hardware controllers, folding those functions into its network of cooperating access points. Branch on Demand is part of this continuing shift. More functions are being packed into intelligent access points and increasingly the cloud, simplifying WLAN deployment and lowering capital and operational costs.

The new product line has been percolating since at least the start of this year when Aerohive bought a cloud vendor, Pareto Networks, and began integrating Pareto's code with Aerohive's wireless network operating system, HiveOS.

The components of the Branch on Demand include hardware, software, and new cloud services.

Aerohive now offers two branch office routers. First to ship will be the BR100, a low-cost routers one 2.4GHz 801.11n radio, five Fast Ethernet ports, and a USB port for a 3G/4G cellular radio for a WAN backhaul option. Pricing starts at $99 yearly per office site, and will ship in mid-December.

The BR200 is the high-end router: It, too, has a USB port for a 3G/4G WAN option, but it offers a 3x3 MIMO radio that can run on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, five Gigabit Ethernet ports, two of them offering power-over-Ethernet at up to 15.4 watts, and cryptographic acceleration for attached clients. The BR200 will be available in "early 2012," and pricing is not yet announced.

Both boxes run the latest release of the HiveOS, version 5.0. The new code works with cloud features such as the new VPN termination, the revamped HiveManager 5.0 for cloud-based WLAN management. For the first-time, wired clients plugging into the new routers also now can be tracked by user identity and device type and automatically assigned permissions, network settings, and be managed by HiveManager regardless of how they connect to the branch network.

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