Welcome to the next generation!

I finally had a chance to look at HiveManager NG. HiveManager is Aerohive’s management tool for their switches, routers and access points. It’s a powerful tool for managing the access points and are in my opinion far ahead over the competitions. It’s both easy to use and advanced enough to deploy enterprise networks. So what’s the buzz about the next gen?
Well, the new version has a new graphical look. Even easier to understand than the old version and a lot of guidance to help you setup your network.

HiveManagerNG

It seems like Aerohive tries to help you little on your way to build a good WiFi. Looking at the SSID settings, some of the base rates are disabled by default.
BaseRates

Disabling base rates will help your clients to roam earlier and improve the overall performance of your WiFi, but I’m a little bit ambivalent about this.
It’s almost always good to disable some base rates, but the settings are almost never the same for two networks. It will depend on client type and the number of clients. There could also be compatibility issues.
Maybe a help wizard could do this for you, but the setting is easy to miss and makes you wonder what else is not “default”.

There is no special HiveOS version for HiveManager NG. HiveOS is the operative system of the access points.
This tells me that an upgrade won’t give you any new WiFi features but maybe a few things that haven’t been exposed in the GUI before will be available. On example is the ability to exclude channels when an AP has it radio channel set to auto. Another helpful thing I saw was the possibility to see clients that’s not connected.

Under the hood

Of course there’s more to HiveManager NG than the GUI.
So if we try to look under the hood, there is a whole new platform.
All data is stored in an elastic cloud which means it should scale well to handle a lot of devices.
The biggest reason is “big data”. A lot of information is gathered by the access points and historical data will be accessible for analytics. This is great for troubleshooting and for BI applications.
All data is accessed via APIs and the graphical interface of HiveManager NG accesses the data via API just like you could.
This means that you’re able to reach it all via your own applications if you want to. This is great for integration with already installed monitoring tools or if you would like to build your own SMS alarm if something happens in you network.

Just like the old HiveManager, NG comes in an online version to subscribe to or as a Virtual Appliance for VMware that you control yourself. There’s also a third version called private cloud which is the same as the online version for service providers and WaaS partners.
What it seems there’s going to be one difference from the old times. Before you couldn’t do everything with the online version and now it seems that all features will not come to the VA.

One thing to remember is that HiveManager NG isn’t finished yet. You could buy the online version today but have to wait at least until 2016 Q1 for the VA version. In my little test I found a few things to be missing. There is no support for branch routers or CVG yet. The SSH proxy isn’t there. This is a feature I use a lot. It makes the AP to setup a tunnel to HiveManager and gives me access to the access point via SSH without having to be at site to troubleshoot access points.
Another thing I miss is to be able to upload your own Captive Web Portal for guest networks. In the config in NG you could only customize the build in portal or redirect users to an external.
And if you’re in for a laugh and know Swedish, you should choose the build in portal and set the predefined language to Swedish. I think that Google translate would have done a better job…

Upgrading from the old HiveManager

There is no upgrade or conversion from HiveManager to HiveManager NG and what I’ve heard there will not be any. This mean that you have to create all of your settings again. I haven’t got a clear answer what will happen when you move your accesspoints if you have to rename them and assign policy’s again.
It should be possible to export/import your maps and the device inventory list. But I haven’t tried it myself.
If you would like to upgrade, your license is valid for both versions of HiveManager. Just go to cloud-ie.aerohive.com and sign up. Enter your license key and start to move you’ APs. It’s possible to move one by one, but one AP can’t be in both systems at the same time.

ID manager

Another new thing is the integration of ID-manager in HiveManager.
ID-manager is Aerohive guest management solution and it’s a good complement to your wireless system.
The licensing isn’t finished yet but it leans against two versions. One free integrated base version, probably for managing PPSK and a licensed version for RADIUS users and SMS delivery of credentials.

To sum up, HiveManager NG is definitely the next generation of HiveManager and a big step in the right direction. Sadly it just not finished yet, but once it gets there it will probably be really good.

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