Aerohive Addresses the BYOD Challenge with a Hearty "Bonjour"
Aerohive's product allows Apple products such as iPads and iPhones to access AirPrint and AirPlay functions across multi-subnet networks.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about Aruba's bring-your-own-device play. Well, last week it was another wireless LAN vendor, this time innovative startup Aerohive, that made a BYOD-oriented announcement. Aerohive announced it has added functionality to enable the passing of Apple’s Bonjour protocol to traverse network segments.
Aerohive's product, aptly named the "Bonjour Gateway", allows Apple products such as iPads and iPhones to access AirPrint and AirPlay functions across multi-subnet networks. For you non-network engineers out there, what this allows is for users to connect their Apple devices to things like Apple TV and Apple-enabled printers even when they aren’t on the same network segment.
The proprietary Apple protocol operates at Layer 2 and was designed for home use--and, unless you're the biggest of geeks, your home network will only have one network segment. In contrast, most corporate networks are made up of tens or even hundreds of network segments to isolate traffic, manage IP addresses or a variety of other reasons. This means that an organization might have placed a Time Capsule or Apple TV box on the same floor as a group of users, but they might not be able to access it because they're on a different network segment. Presto-change, Aerohive's gateway takes care of that problem.
Now this begs the question, why might a company deploy an Apple TV or other Apple device? First, remember we are in the era of BYOD and consumerization, so it’s reasonable to assume that users are bringing these in for their own personal use. It's highly inconvenient for that user to be able to use the device in their office or cube but not in the conference room; so, if nothing else, the Aerohive gateway will allow workers to access their devices in more places.
In addition, there are a handful of organizations, mostly schools, where the IT departments are bringing in the Apple devices for broader organizational use. For example, a school system could deploy Apple TV centrally and download content to it and then play it back from any classroom or to any group of users that have Apple devices. I wrote a blog a few months ago about my local school system having made iPads mandatory for kindergartners, and they're not the only school system doing so. Can you imagine what a hassle it would be for IT if they had to deploy multiple Apple TV boxes (one for each network segment) and then try and manage the content on each? It would eventually reach the point where the management of the content would outweigh the benefit to the school.
A more corporate example is a company I recently worked with. They are using Apple TV to mirror iPad screens on to large screen TVs and projectors for presentation purposes. This particular West Coast-based company, had such a good year last year that the CEO gave every employee an iPad as a thank you gift (over 6,000 in all) at end of year, so now it's the corporate standard. There are plenty of ways for schools and other organizations to leverage the Apple technology and we’ll certainly see more use of it rather than less over the next few years.
One of the features I really like about the Aerohive solution is that it runs out-of-band and requires only a single Aerohive access point to enable the functionality. This means the deploying organization does not need to change anything on their network. The current wireless technology and security policies remain in place. Drop in Aerohive and start enjoying the benefits.
This could actually be a very good "Trojan Horse" strategy for Aerohive. For start-up vendors, it’s often tough to unseat incumbents, particularly highly customer-focused ones like Aruba and Cisco. This allows Aerohive to be dropped into another vendor's network, for this functionality only, and then look to expand the relationship after that.
Supporting BYOD is becoming a critical initiative for IT managers today. As iPads become more important business tools, securely accessing the other Apple devices across network segments will become an important differentiator for Aerohive. Aerohive said "Bonjour", Text that's linkedAruba said "Bon Bini" and now I guess I'll wait for NEC to say "Arigato" to BYOD.