I’m in the middle of the North American RuckU roadshow and one particularly intense segment is competitive. Of course Aerohive comes up in conversation given the great job they’ve done in penetrating the market.
You’d think a competitive session would focus on the negatives of a product however, with one exception, I really address their story more than the products.
Aerohive’s story surrounds it’s controllerless architecture. It has two distinct chapters:
1. No central bottleneck. Back in 2007 Aerohive saw the upcoming problem with 802.11n (and now 802.11ac) standard being so fast that centralizing all of that data to one point could be problematic. Does Aerohive have the best solution to this problem? Well, I think it’s fine but it is far from end-all. Here are two points of interest:
- One misconception that accidentally gets perpetrated is that all controller-based solutions centralize the data. False. Ruckus has controllers but doesn’t centralize the data unless you want to. Would a customer ever want to centralize (tunnel) all of the data to the controller? Sure. We have many customers that require the ability to centralize the data. I’m not talking about small customers here. I’m talking 500+ AP systems and major carriers. Aerohive doesn’t have a controller and therefore can’t do this.
- You could buy more controllers. Sure, this sounds crazy but if you are talking to a company that mostly centralizes it’s data (like Aruba and Cisco) then just buy more controllers. If you really like their solution then it’s the cost of doing business with them. Is it worth the cost? Just depends on what you want out of your Wi-Fi system.
2. No central point of failure. Of all Wi-Fi solutions out there their’s is the most resilient because it doesn’t have controllers. Just for fun I ask my audiences how many of them have a wired network with no central point of failure and doesn’t include redundant components. I have yet to have someone raise their hand. Your network either has single components that can fail or you have redundancy built in. If you have two controllers, each with 99.99% survivability, what are the chances that they both fail? Seriously, I’m asking. I don’t know the math but I suspect it’s a really, really slim chance. Your wired network has, at best, the same redundancy as your controller-based Wi-Fi system.
No matter what architecture your chosen system has it can NEVER increase the performance of your WLAN. The best a controller / controllerless architecture can achieve is “do no harm”. If you want to achieve phenomenal Wi-Fi performance you must start with the communication at Layer 1. Until your chosen system gets that right, nothing else matters.
Let the flogging begin.
P.S. Want a crazy prediction? Aerohive begins selling a controller.