Aerohive looks to drive partner wireless-as-a-service business with new MSP program

The program, which has two tiers, provides infrastructure enhancements related to managed services as well as business process changes desired by MSPs, like the separation of hardware purchases from software and pay-as-you-go billing.

dashboard-lg[1]Milpitas CA-based mobility network vendor Aerohive Networks has seen most of its business move to the cloud in the last few years. Now, it has embarked on an initiative to support partners with a managed services strategy, with the creation of a new MSP program to assist partners in the delivery of fully managed wired and wireless services.

Aerohive was not born in the cloud, but soon entered it. They shipped their first product in 2007 and moved into cloud-based management in 2009.

“We realized the barriers to entry in on-prem to smaller customers, and even to larger ones who wanted to do evals,” said Abby Strong, Director of Product Marketing at Aerohive. “We realized that if we built it in the public cloud and hosted it, we could get these customers up and running in ten minutes. That’s where our cloud first came from, even before we called it a cloud, to be able to do evals and proof-of-concepts better. We then saw customers transition more to cloud, with the tipping point being in about 2012, when it became the primary way people wanted to buy. Now about 80 per cent of our customers are hosted in our public cloud.”

While customers have been increasingly going to the cloud, they have pretty much regarded wifi-as-a-service as a novelty, but Strong said that has already begun to change.

“We are seeing a fundamental change in how customers want to consume wi-fi, where they now see it as an essential utility,” she said. “It is not quite out of the novelty stage yet, but we have crossed the hurdle of wi-fi not being an option any more. People realize that just because they are networking experts doesn’t mean that they are wi-fi experts. We are seeing this more with larger customers right now, but as more of these devices show up and as high density devices become more complex, it will increase. We expect in the next four years, about 50 per cent of customers will want to buy wi-fi-as-a-service We see an opportunity for our partners to provide that utility as a service, to make wi-fi part of a service that they offer. That is why we built this program.”

The new AdvantageMSP program adds two tiers to Aerohive’s existing three-tier partner program.

“The MaaS – management as a service – tier can resell our Hive Manager cloud management solution as a service,” Strong said. “The majority of partners will qualify for this, if they want to, by signing an addendum to their contract saying they can provide the service.

The second and more advanced tier is WaaS – wireless as a service. Partners looking to qualify for this tier, will need to show they have the business systems in place to provide wireless networks on a subscription basis.

“It’s not the size of the business, but the ability to provide the services that matters for the WaaS tier,” Strong said. “It will include some large service providers, but also some focused boutique MSPs.”

Strong said that the program consists of a combination of some infrastructure changes Aerohive has made for MSPs, some business process changes, and facilitating the ability of partners to build their own services on top of their platform.

Strong said the infrastructure changes will be implemented over the next couple of months.

“We are adding a hierarchical management view within HiveManager so the partner can see all the customers they are managing,” Strong said. The new tool gives a centralized global view of multiple customers’ networks and detailed views of single customer networks.

“We are also adding the ability to give customers limited role-based access to HiveManager, at the partner’s discretion,” Strong added. “For example, they could let the customer be able to update the content in their portal, without being able to change any of the settings.”

New auto-provisioning capabilities for access points and switches through HiveManager make it easier for partners to remotely deploy and configure networks.

“From tools in the centralized dashboard, they can drill into specific locations, and can troubleshoot problems before the customer sees them,” Strong said.

Strong said Aerohive is introducing two important business process changes for MSPs through the program. One is the separation of hardware and software sales.

“We used to require hardware and software licenses to be purchased at the same time,” she said. “MSPs want to buy APs in bulk, and allocate them as they go, so we are now allowing them to purchase the hardware separately.”

The second change here is usage-based billing.

“With this pay-as-you-go billing, the MSP only pays when they actually deploy the license to a customer,” Strong stated.

The ability of partners to build their own services on top of Aerohive’s platform is facilitated by open APIs, and the upcoming ability to add analytics-based services.

“Now that we have great connectivity and cloud management, we’ve been working on leveraging it by building out a big data platform,” Strong said. “This will be available to our partners so they can build solutions on top of it. They can also build on top of our own public cloud or on top of their own private cloud. That ability is unique to us.”

Aerohive, which sells 100 per cent through channel partners, will be adding targeting new partners for recruitment now that AdvantageMSP program is in place.

“We will be recruiting new managed service partners,” Strong noted.