We kicked off Wireless Field Day 2 with a visit to the Aerohive offices. Since my first interaction with these folks, I’ve been very impressed by their dedication to the wireless industry. I had to laugh when I realized how many Aerohivers I follow on Twitter. They’ve also done a great job of keeping in touch with me during the past year to let me know about new product launches, such as the BR100 branch router.
Aerohive was waiting for us with a smile and a handshake from the very start. The never-shy Devin Akin (@DevinAkin) welcomed us all to the Aerohive offices while we descended on the breakfast we were going to need to fuel the Tech Field Day “Firehose of Information”™. I must take a second here to highlight one of the best puns I’ve seen in a very long time:
Once settled with food, we were invited to take a shot of the Devinator’s favorite liquid substance, Diet Peach Tea Snapple, which I should probably start referring to as “Aerohive Kool-Aid” Our first presenter was Matthew Gast (@MatthewSGast), one of the chief archtects at Aerohive as well as a member of the 802.11 committees that drive wireless standards. His presentation was very technical, diving deep into concerns about 802.11n and issues that are already being seen with throughput on controllers today. This segued into the future of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac Gigabit Wireless, and the impact that Aerohive’s design philosophies have on the increased capabilities that wireless devices will have in the near term once 802.11ac sees wider adoption. Matthew really cranked up the Nerd Meter on this one, and I thank him for letting us get our hands dirty with all the talk about layer 1 discussion, which is probably one of the most neglected layers of the OSI model when it comes right down to it.
After Matthew finished melting my brain, we moved on to the newest Aerohive product, the BR100 branch router. Aerohive had given me a briefing on this device before, so much of it was a review. I like the form factor of the BR100, especially for remote offices or teleworkers that don’t need anything more fancy that simple connectivity. My personal use case would be something along the lines of having it available for trips to allow secure wireless connectivity in my hotel room without the need to rely on the hotel’s often-unstable wireless solution. We went through some more particulars of the device, mostly around the new options enabled by the additions to the Aerohive HiveManager interface that allow networking configuration on top of the wireless configuration options.
As the live demo was readied, we got hit with our Aerohive Oprah Moment – chocolate covered bacon! I must say that this was a first for me as a bacon fan. The hog parts were high quality, and the chocolate added a sweet compliment. I doubt it’s something I’m going to eat every day though. Thanks Aerohive for giving me the opportunity (and the extra cholesterol). We also got an Aerohive backpack filled with goodies. An Aerohive water bottle, notepad and pen set, and…a BR100! Yes, I now have a little Aerohive branch router to try out. I plan on putting this little guy through his paces. The unexpected Oprah moments really help me get a chance to evaluate the equipment.
The 15 minute, 15 branch deployment demo from an iPad was pretty impressive. The ability to have no restriction on the configuration device interface is a welcome change from the Java/Flash/client restrictions from other vendors, and it appears to be becoming a drive in the industry to provide that kind of flexibility. A word of caution, however, to those thinking of doing live demos at presentations or other events: Be sure to keep your audience engaged and riveted on the demo. It’s very easy to lose your audience with demos. Not that Aerohive did, but I noticed we were getting a little restless toward the end.
The restlessness seemed to trigger the Devinator’s Oprah Gland again, because he announced that we had reached the end of the presentation and that it was time to award the coveted Gregor Awards. We didn’t know it, but Gregor Vučajnk (@GregorVucajnk) had been monitoring the #WFD2 hashtag during the Aerohive presentation and handed out the awards for the best tweeters. Somehow, I managed to win! I guess the extra snark I packed in my carry-on helped my out on this one. I got an Aerohive AP 350 for causing so much trouble. This impressive piece of hardware is going to get a great workout both at home and the office, as I now have my own “hive” of APs to test and play around with.
Overall, Aerohive was a great start to Wireless Field Day 2. I enjoyed the interaction with Matthew Gast and the ability to pick his brain about the nerd knobs of wireless. While the information about the BR100 wasn’t necessarily new, I think this speaks volumes about Aerohive’s ability to keep bloggers and technical people in the loop about new developments and keep their products fresh in our minds. While the Oprah Moments are never a required part of Tech Field Day, it’s nice to see that companies like Aerohive believe so strongly in their products that they are willing to put a few out there in the hands of people that will pick them apart and tell you the good and bad without reservation. That’s a lot of confidence, folks. Something that I’ve never sensed that Aerohive is short on. Keep up the good work, Aerohive. And keep drinking that Diet Peach Tea Snapple Aerohive Kool-Aid.
Wireless Field Day 2 Disclaimer
Aerohive was a sponsor of Wireless Field Day 2. As such, they were responsible for covering a portion of my travel and lodging expenses while attending Wireless Field Day 2. In addition, they provided me with an Aerohive backpack, water bottle, pen and notepad set, an Aerohive BR100 evaluation unit, and an Aerohive AP 350 evaluation unit. They did not ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the writing of this review/analysis. The opinions and analysis provided within are my own and any errors or omissions are mine and mine alone.