Aerohive recently announced an Amazon Echo Skill that allows you to manage your wireless network using only your voice.
Is this just a gimmick? Well, yes and no.
Even the press release announcement acknowledged that "Nobody believes that IT departments, even lean IT departments, will shift in the short term to 100 percent voice interaction to control their infrastructure".
It does, however, reflect a broader trend that internet usage is moving away from web browsers to applications and voice controlled devices such as Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri.
Gartner is predicting that by 2020, 30% of web searches will be done without a screen, before suggesting that voice interactions will eventually overtake typing a search query full stop.
What Exactly Have Aerohive Developed?
Essentially, HiveManager can now integrate with Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa. The result of this is what's called the 'HiveManager Shortcuts' 'Skill', in Echo parlance.
The 'Skill' enables network administrators to interact with their network using voice instead of a computer driven interface.
The drive behind this the trend towards lean IT, where smaller IT teams are being pressured to deliver more with less.
Is It Any Good?
We've had a play with the HiveManager Skill, and do we envisage you throwing out your keyboard and replacing it with Alexa? No.
Most network managers will obviously continue to use the computer interface to manage their network. But roaming around a campus, or even checking the status of a network at home, is certainly very easy via Alexa.
Also, while most imagine Alexa to only be available from an Amazon Echo device, the application on your mobile phone will give you access to your HiveManager too.
We think that as IT departments realise the efficiency gains from speaking to their network, and getting things done this way, we'll see uptake. Also, as the skill develops and is able to handle more complex interactions, this will drive further adoption.
There will be commands or check-ups that will be just easier, less obtrusive, and lower friction over voice compared to a computer interface.
OK, I Have An Echo. What Should I Try?
- Check-up on the health of your network, and any trouble spots.
- Compare the health of your network - via comparative analytics - to other networks of a similar size.
- Palm off simple tasks such as onboarding new access points and assigning a policy.