Aruba: Customers will be better off as a result of HP combination

While the competition is mulling ways to take customers away from WLAN vendor Aruba Networks as it gets combined with HP, Aruba is preparing its customers for what it calls better days ahead.

HP and Aruba announced on March 2 that HP will acquire Aruba in a transaction valued at $3 billion. During the ensuing days, Aruba held its Aruba Atmosphere 2015 event in Las Vegas, an annual North America shindig it hosts to promote training and the sharing of technical information with its customers and ecosystem partners.

"I think people left feeling very, very energized about what the future holds," said Greg Murphy, VP of Business Operations for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aruba, in an interview with FierceWirelessTech. "I think everybody is really understanding how powerful the benefits are going to be. They've got everything they love about Aruba, the way the company innovates, the 'customer first, customer last' culture. Those are the things that define Aruba, that define the Aruba brand, and we anticipate doing nothing but maintaining those."

Thirteen-year-old Aruba has earned a reputation for providing a best-in-breed mobility software and WLAN hardware. Its access points (APs) are based on the 802.11n and 802.11ac standards to deliver secure Wi-Fi client access to a variety of indoor and outdoor enterprise WLAN environments.

But competitors like Ruckus Wireless, Aerohive and Xirrus say the tie-up with HP raises a lot of question marks for customers and creates huge opportunities for their companies. Merging two companies is always complicated, and they question how Aruba will retain its culture as it gets mired in the details of a large-scale acquisition. Aruba has about 1,800 employees; HP has north of 300,000.

Not unexpectedly, Aruba sees its competitors as demonstrating a natural reaction when facing tougher competition from another larger player in the ecosystem. Cisco has held the lion's share of the WLAN market, with Aruba in second place, followed by Ruckus and HP, according to IDC. Another competitor, Motorola Solutions' Enterprise business, was acquired by Zebra Technologies for $3.45 billion in 2014.

As part of the HP transaction, which is expected to close by the end of October, the HP networking and switching portfolio will be combined with the Aruba wireless/mobility portfolio. The newly combined organization will be led by Aruba CEO Dominic Orr and Chief Technology and Strategy Officer Keerti Melkote, who will report to  Antonio Neri, who leads the HP Enterprise Group.

HP says that ultimately, with Aruba's leading wireless LAN technology and differentiated software solutions, coupled with HP's switching portfolio, HP Networking will boast market leadership in the $18 billion and growing campus networking market. "We will be an innovative, agile vendor ideally positioned to solve customers' toughest challenges in mobility, security and networking," Neri said in a blog post.

Aruba always has been a company with a very clear vision of open networking, open platforms and multi-vendor support, Murphy said, and "I would contrast that with some of our competitors who typically take a much more proprietary approach," whose strategy is based more on vendor lock-in, he said.

Considering what HP has done and how it has innovated in the networking area, "you see that they are very much philosophically aligned with that [open approach], so I think you're going to have post-transaction, some really clear choice in the market between organizations that believe in open standards innovation, open systems," and those that don't, Murphy said. "Some of our competitors, I think, will find that very threatening to their business model."

Besides boosting its resources at home, the combination, with HP's reach and scale, will give Aruba the ability to better serve the needs of multinationals and corporations that need support in offices throughout the world, he said.

Technology-wise, the fit between the organizations is very good, he said. "I think that this is a recipe for success," Murphy said. And anyone who points to HP's past acquisitions as less than stellar--well, that's looking backwards, he said. Looking at the market in front of them, customers will be better off, he added.

For more:
- see this Aruba blog
- see this HP blog

Related articles:
HP, Aruba competitors seize the day, expect 'huge opportunity'
HP to acquire Aruba Networks for $3B
Aruba earns Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint certification

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