The kiwi is a flightless bird that is native to New Zealand and is also the national symbol of New Zealand. Since 1918, the term “Kiwi” is also a common phrase of self-reference for the people of New Zealand. I was recently invited by Connector Systems, Aerohive’s top-notch VAD partner in Auckland, New Zealand to teach Aerohive Wi-Fi to a fun group of proud Kiwis.
The journey to New Zealand is not an easy one. I left my home of Atlanta, GA on a Friday night and flew to Los Angeles. After a 4-hour layover at LAX, I boarded another 14-hour flight to Auckland. My home is literally halfway around the world from New Zealand and the total travel time to get to my hotel was over 25 hours. Even though I departed on Friday, my arrival was on Sunday afternoon because I also lost a day when my plane crossed over the International Date Line.
On Monday morning, I arrived at the offices of Connector Systems where Terence Fleming, the Wi-Fi business consultant at Connector Systems, greeted me. After Terence gave me the grand tour and introduced me to the staff, I pre-staged the classroom and thought I would slip back to the hotel for some rest. I had no such luck because Terence and Connector had much more planned for me. Despite a full week of teaching, several meetings were also arranged with potential customers and partners so that I could explain the Aerohive Networks controller-less wireless LAN architecture. I also spent a lot of time with PreSales Engineering Manager, Matt Hall, discussing how Aerohive Wi-Fi training could best be delivered in the future to Kiwi IT professionals. Finally I had dinner with Connector Systems Wi-Fi Technical Consultant , Geoff Mason, who is a KiWi-Fi networking genius!
Class started on Tuesday morning and it became immediately apparent why Connector Systems was chosen as our distributor. The personnel at Connector are IT professionals that specialize in WLANs and have years of KiWi-Fi experience.
Aerohive training courses can usually handle about 12-14 students, however we arranged for another 10 people from the Connector Systems sales team to sit in during the morning lecture of day one so that they could learn about the Aerohive controller-less wireless networking platform. I have great admiration for any company that understands the importance of educating the sales team about the technical aspects of any networking solution. Terence, Matt and Geoff also attended all four days of the Aerohive technical training.
Whenever I teach an Aerohive class, the IT networking skill sets are always very high. However, I often find that many of the students are often new to Wi-Fi and wireless LANs. Their knowledge about 802.11 technology is modestly fundamental.
This was not the case during our four days of Aerohive training in Auckland. Connector Systems filled the class with students who were all KiWi-Fi experts. The entire week I was hit with some really hard questions from a great mixture of experienced resellers and customers. KiWi-Fi experts such as Ed Armstrong from Datacom and Dan Bason of AMI really kept me on my toes the entire week.
The topic of HiveAP classification within a single WLAN policy sparked a long debate and discussion. The KiWi-Fi students proposed a variety of methods on how AP classification could be utilized. We even discussed using RADIUS-based attributes for User Profile assignment together with AP classification for VLAN assignment by location.
That sounds like a future blog post: Aerohive WLANs using RADIUS-based and location-based VLAN assignment. Another class highlight was when Terence demonstrated to the entire class why certificates are indeed time-based. Two of the hands-on labs in class include configuring Aerohive HiveAPs as a VPN server and as a RADIUS server. A root CA certificate is created that is then used to sign server-side certificates which are uploaded to the HiveAPs. (Hint: Do NOT recreate the root CA certificate after you have created and installed the server certificates on the HiveAPs.) Sorry Terence … I could not resist
One thing that Aerohive Networks has never been accused of is not being feature-rich. Our solution has a multitude of useful bells and whistles. That being said, during the course of the class, all the KiWi-Fi students came up with many ideas for potential features and enhancements for HiveManager, the Aerohive network management server. KiWi-Fi guru Geoff Mason kept a running list of ideas and promptly e-mailed about 26 feature requests to Aerohive’s Senior Product Manager, Abby Hassel Strong.
My trip to New Zealand was short and my only regret is that I did not get much time to explore Auckland. We discussed plans about me returning again in Q1 of 2012 for another round of training. In the meantime, I must say that I left New Zealand with a strong sense that Aerohive is in good hands with the Kiwis. We have a kick-butt distributor (Connector Systems) and a strong team of KiWi-Fi resellers that I cannot thank enough for making this training excursion a success!
Below are the KiWi-Fi experts:
Pictured left to right (Top Row)
Brent Sergent – Fusion
Dan Bason – AMI
Gavin Sanders – AISCorp
Matt Stewart - Gen-I
Andre Hannah – Glen Cook
Damon Lord – Asnet
Prabhash Kashyap – Datacom
Ed Armstrong – Datacom
Chris Wallace – University of Auckland
Pictured left to right (kneeling)
Geoff Mason – Connector Systems
Terence Fleming – Connector Systems
David Coleman – Aerohive Networks
Matt Hall – Connector Systems