Aerohive buys cloud startup Pareto Networks

Follows Meraki with Wi-Fi, branch routing cloud service

Wi-Fi up-and-comer Aerohive has purchased Pareto Networks, a startup that launched cloud-based branch-office routing services last spring.

Aerohive already offers a cloud-based alternative to its wireless LAN (WLAN) management appliance. The Pareto acquisition means that, eventually, enterprises should be able to access their Wi-Fi and router provisioning, security and management capabilities through a single pane of glass.

In the meantime, the cloud services model enables enterprises to offload capital expenditures by using subscription-based services instead of buying and installing equipment in large numbers of distributed sites. Cloud services can also hasten deployment times -- often from weeks to overnight.

Aerohive's acquisition news follows Meraki's announcement last week that it has added subscription-based branch office routing to its Wi-Fi cloud portfolio, available now. It usually takes three similar announcements to confidently call something a trend, but what the heck. Let the games begin!

Comprehensive, unified wired and wireless LAN management has to date been fairly elusive. Enterasys offers perhaps the highest degree of integration, enabling single-policy network management across both its wired and wireless gear. Cisco has unified some components of its wired and wireless LANs, yet some functions still need to be handled separately on either side of the Cisco WLAN controller.

Aerohive -- known for its disdain for WLAN controllers and distributed wireless architecture -- plans to integrate Pareto's technology into its own cloud services platform.

"We're not going to sell the current [Pareto] solution as is," explains Aerohive CEO David Flynn. "We're going to pause and integrate [the two cloud services] so we have a unified OS and cloud management platform that we'll release in Q2."

He says the company intends to extend its distributed control and data plane architecture, called Cooperative Control, to the branch routing cloud service.

The company will run Cooperative Control "on APs and across other components. [Wi-Fi] APs and [branch routers] will run as a cohesive system. We'll be autoconfiguring the branch office network with a unified operating system, all managed from the cloud," Flynn says.

A branch router, telecommuter router,and VPN termination gateway -- as well as a new Wi-Fi AP with a USB port for 3G/4G wireless WAN routing -- are on the docket for availability in the second quarter, he says.

Aerohive's current cloud pricing model involves buying and installing Wi-Fi APs and buying an annual subscription to its HiveManager Online Wi-Fi cloud management hosting service. "We're not announcing any pricing change at this point," says Stephen Philip, Aerohive vice president of corporate and product marketing.

Note that cloud services differ slightly from traditional managed network service, which involve the complete outsourcing of one or more functions. If you use managed router services from carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Business, for example, the carrier will install your WAN routers and manage them and all aspects of your WAN on your behalf.

With a cloud service, you're still doing the work -- you're just using equipment and/or software in a third party's data center. In other words, you're buying hosting services instead of managed services.

That said, however, managed network services could be built on top of any vendor's cloud service platform to include the full outsourcing option -- either by the vendor or a vendor partner.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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