Back-to-back innovative product releases from Aerohive…hmmm.  Who would’ve thought that they would re-enter the innovation game after a 5-year hiatus. Not me, but I must say that I’m very pleasantly surprised. I had almost written them off, but it looks like someone or something breathed new life into the company, and I’m glad to see it.

NOTE: Aerohive didn’t ask me or pay me to write this blog. In fact, it’s entirely possible that they want me to get hit by a bus at my earliest convenience. I’m writing this blog because I’m genuinely impressed with their recent product innovation and execution.

First Big Innovation: Dual 5GHz (D5G) APs

While not first-to-market (by any stretch), Aerohive has done a remarkably good job at championing the real-world usefulness of this technology. I spent a significant amount of time/effort testing their AP250 when it was first released, and the ACI problem that so many folks worry about is far less problematic than expected. Any D5G AP will experience ACI, but when the AP is optimally configured, the ACI is going to give you FAR more capacity than a 2.4GHz radio, especially when the 2.4GHz spectrum is dirty.

Competitors were quick to nay-say Aerohive’s commitment to D5G…while they were building their own D5G AP so that they could keep pace. Seeing Cisco, Aruba, and others release D5G APs validates Aerohive’s early commitment. Now Aerohive has several APs that offer D5G capability, and I wrote a blog on the importance of this technology here.

Second Big Innovation: First to Market with 802.11ax APs

“First to market” hasn’t been in Aerohive’s vocabulary since 2009, when they followed up Cooperative Control (their genesis innovation) with PPSK (the secret weapon that they’ve used to win countless deals since I started to work there in 2009). They told me almost a year ago that they would be aggressive on 802.11ax, and while at the time I didn’t believe them, it seems that they were very serious. Excellent execution. Love it.

I’ve also observed that some of their veteran thought leaders (David Coleman, Gregor Vucajnk, Abby Strong, Perry Correll, Mat Edwards, Alan Amrod, etc.) are getting out ahead of 11ax, producing excellent technical marketing and training materials. Again, color me impressed at their strong commitment to product and thought leadership. So far, I haven’t heard any intentional over-hyping, and when they released their recent 11ax infographic, they were very quick to correct any deficiencies. This approach bodes well for building customer trust and loyalty. Let’s hope Aerohive’s marketing team keeps it real in the coming months, not succumbing to the pressure to bend the truth when they see the ‘big boys’ lying through their teeth to make a buck.

802.11ax was the second big push, but the HIVE followed up with another shocking innovation called Atom. I have no idea what’s behind the name, but there sure seems to be some solid thought behind the product. I rarely get excited about anything in Wi-Fi anymore. For so long, everything in Wi-Fi has been “me too,” while real innovation seemed to have left the industry altogether.

Third Big Innovation: Atom, the First Pluggable Enterprise-grade AP

Well, today, I am happy to report that Wi-Fi innovation is back. The moment I saw Atom, and ran over to Aerohive.com to watch the videos and to read the marketing info, my brain went half a dozen directions at once. A litany of use cases flooded my mind, and my first thought was, “They have beaten Ubiquiti to the punch…I can’t believe it.” Anyone who has been watching Ubiquiti for a number of years (like I have), knows that they innovate like the wind blows. They’re going up-market, down-market, and horizontally all at the same time, and the market has rewarded them by quickly tripling their stock value. I’ve been waiting for Ubiquiti to half-arse launch something like this into the enterprise, surprising everyone. So, imagine the look on my face when I read that Aerohive had beat them to the punch, bringing a whole new level of flexibility to enterprises. Electrifying technology.

The immediate uses of the product that come to mind include:

  • Temporary or permanent coverage extension (for low-coverage areas)
  • WIPS sensors (for security and performance monitoring) that you can throw anywhere/everywhere for cheap
  • Spectrum sensors (for troubleshooting spectrum issues in various places)
  • Bridging of various wired devices (e.g. printers, IoT devices)
  • Atom could act as a client and connect various devices to other vendors’ APs for diagnostic testing. Can you say “Trojan horse”?
  • Quick Wi-Fi network capacity expander
  • Hospital rooms, hotel rooms, road warriors, and telecommuters could all benefit
  • Location services (has integrated BLE!)
  • When combined with HiveManager “Connect”, will be super-cheap, zero-install, Enterprise-class Wi-Fi to get a small company started

I’m sure there are lots of other use cases. These are just the ones that immediately came to mind. Solving real customer problems: that’s innovation.

I’m surprised their marketing didn’t say something Apple-esque like, “Enterprise Wi-Fi in your pocket” (or on the wall). 🙂

Currently* available in 3-packs for $599 USD. Now that’s powerful Wi-Fi for a small charge.

*actually availability is Q2, but I just wanted to use the root word current.

If Aerohive keeps firing on all cylinders in their Product Management and Engineering organizations, they’re going to become an annoying little ankle biter for the big boys. I hope they keep up the good work.

Aerohive Innovation