ExtremeCloud IQ Review

A "set it and forget it" product but sometimes data plane on the AP's would randomly stop forwarding traffic

What is most valuable?

  • Scalability - No controller so no single aggregation point and no single point of failure!
  • Resiliency - All AP's in a common hive automatically create a mesh network so that if there are issues upstream in the wired network, traffic is routed around the failure. Each AP runs a layer 2 SPF algorithm to automatically determine the shortest/best path from one point to another.
  • Security - All AP's have a statefull firewall built-in which makes security policy enforcement at the edge a breeze. Unlike a lot of wireless vendors, security is a cornerstone of the Aerohive product.
  • Mobility - With the BR100/BR200 or the AP 350 our road warriors can take the corporate WLAN with them wherever they travel. The BR100/BR200 devices allow you to utilize both a wired network as well as a 4G USB dongle to provide transport for the IPsec connection back to the Cloud Virtual Gateway (CVG). The CVG is a virtual appliance that you run in the datacenter to terminate the IPsec tunnels.
  • Simplicity - A GUI so simple to use that you truly cannot screw it up.
  • Serviceability - This is especially nice for those hard to reach AP's. If for some reason an AP loses its mind and cannot be reached either via the mesh network or via the wired network it will dynamically engage a feature called the Access Console, or AC. The AC has a special SSID that is broadcast that lets you login to the device for troubleshooting purposes.

How has it helped my organization?

Wireless is critical infrastructure in my environment. If my drivers cannot use their handheld scanners to connect to the network for inventory then the company is losing money. With all of the resiliency features and ability to scale I never have to worry about whether people can actually get work done. I'll go weeks at a time without needing to even look at the Hive manager interface and when I do it's because I need to either provision a new AP or update a network policy. It is pretty much a "set it and forget it" product.

What needs improvement?

I can honestly say that I cannot find a single item where Aerohive needs to be improved. I have been a customer from pretty much the beginning so to see how they have evolved and grown is pretty amazing.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used Aerohive at two different companies between 2007 and now.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Aside from the typical learning curve that goes along with any new product I had no deployment issues.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the early days there were some stability issues with the code, but they corrected them quickly. We had instances where the data plane on the AP's would randomly stop forwarding traffic which of course caused the wireless clients to not be able to reach the rest of the network.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Never. No controller = no bottleneck = no single point of failure

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Customer service is top notch. If there have ever been non-technical issues with things such as Hive manager licensing they have always been right on top of things.

Technical Support:

Tech support is hands down one of the best collection of individuals you'll ever deal with. The problem is that their product is so solid that I can't remember the last time I've had to interface with them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have personally used many different vendors’ products such as Trapeze, Aruba, and Cisco. Dealing with those solutions after having dealt with Aerohive was pure torture. I used to work for a Cisco Gold partner where our major client base was K-12. I dare you to try and get Bonjour or any other multicast based application to work with a Cisco WLAN. You can do it, but it is a painstaking experience. Every enterprise should be Aerohive in my opinion, but K-12 especially should be taking a serious look.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is ridiculously easy. If you're going with the on-premise Hive manager then you install the OVA, get into the text-based setup, assign a hostname and network information, and then launch the web GUI. From there you are two minutes away from having a functioning wireless network. If you're going with the Hive Manager Online (HMOL) then it is even easier. The AP's find their own way to the Hive manager either via DHCP options or via a DNS lookup for their HMOL.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented Aerohive in-house.

What was our ROI?

This is not something I have calculated at this point.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It has been a while, but I believe it was around 5k for the Hive manager virtual appliance and then the price of each AP which range from $400-$1100. Day to day cost is pretty much nothing other than when I need to provision a new AP or update a network policy. As I said before, I can go weeks at a time without even looking at it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we looked at Aruba and Trapeze. The Trapeze folks almost got into a fist fight in the data center and the Aruba folks were so ridiculously arrogant I couldn't stand it.

What other advice do I have?

If you're going to have a bake-off try Aerohive last because you won't want to take it out. Take this from someone who is about to sit the CCIE Route/Switch lab, just because it doesn't say Cisco doesn't mean it isn't top notch gear.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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