Mobility Management: The Rollup Gains Momentum

Aerohive’s announcement today of the increased integration of several aspects of mobility management into what used to be called a wireless-LAN system is yet another indication that functional consolidation, essential to the future of mobility management, and clearly, more than a few vendor business plans, is now well underway.

Wireless LAN leader Aerohive today announced their Mobility Suite product line, designed to address the upsurge in mobile devices appearing on enterprise wireless LANs. There's a lot here - identity management, client management, which eases onboarding and implements cloud-based overall management of guest, BYO, and enterprise-owned devices, and enhanced integration with third-party MDM vendors AirWatch and JAMF Software. I'd like to see management console integration with products from these vendors, but, other than that, this is clearly a big step forward for Aerohive, branching further into becoming an IT solutions provider. Indeed, as we've seen with a few other leading WLAN vendors, any firm here which seeks to remain a pure-play provider of access points and such is likely painting itself into a corner. End users no longer wish to buy components; they seek solutions. And they no longer have the time or resources (human, financial, and other) to be their own integrators. Thus the more a vendor can provide, the closer they are to meeting their customer's needs, especially if they provide a high degree of integration in those solutions.

I have long used the concept of what I call the Consolidation Principle to describe a key element for success with IT products and in many other fields. Almost all innovations (MDM and identity management, just for example, and to stay on theme here) begin as point products, sometimes just taking a new spin on an old concept. But since there is significant overhead associated with integrating these products into any IT operation, and since numerous innovations often occur simultaneously, complexity and cost of ownership can both quickly grow out of control. And with end-user organizations still (and perhaps, now, forever) under cost-control pressures, it becomes essentially impossible to absorb more of either.

But if we roll-up multiple innovations into a single or umbrella product or service offering, especially with a unified management console and management databases so as to minimize complexity and the opportunity for conflicts and (perhaps serious) errors, IT organizations are much more amenable to adopting new innovations, and markets grow. Aerohive is thus catching a wave and enhancing the line-extension strategy that already, again for example, has them in the applications business.

Does mobility management fit with what we have to this point called a wireless LAN system? Sure - and why not? Aerohive now has a very broad product line, and is indeed looking more like an IT supplier that a wireless-LAN firm alone. The Consolidation Principle at work, once again. One-stop shopping is going to be a recurring theme for many years to come, with the integration load diminished and even with traditional system integrators discovering that, in many cases, they have less to do.

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