Aruba is now a Mobility company not just a WLAN company

I’ve watched with interest over several years how Aruba Networks seems to have an uncanny ability to bring to market, or acquire, technologies needed to stay at the forefront of the WLAN market. They seem to keep a close eye on competitors and move the focus of their company when needed with as much agility as a small startup does. Wireless is evolving at a very fast pace and this sort of focus is the difference, I believe, between has been companies and companies that really get what their customers and market space is about.

In addition to this observation I think that there is a more fundamental shift going on in wireless right now. What I call this is the shift from the story being about how to build wireless networks to how to enable users and businesses to work/live/play while mobile. The following is a dictionary definition of mobility;

Mobility

  1. The ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
  2. The ability to move between different levels in society or employment.

In the enterprise we tend to focus on the first meaning and I would argue that Aruba is now well on its way to redefining itself as being a Mobility company and not just a WLAN company. This is indeed where the heat and customer angst is with mobile devices in the enterprise and focuses squarely on a problem that is in need of multi-faceted solutions. In my own work place this is widely recognized by both the technical and not technical folks as being a top concern for our customers. They are really looking for help with enabling their employees to use mobile devices. As an amusing (to me) aside, this is partially being driven by executives looking to be able to do their jobs while out of the office.

A few months ago I attended the Aruba Airheads conference in Las Vegas. One of the keynote speakers there was Paul DeBeasi from Gartner who talked about the above shifts and Gartner’s research on it. It was very interesting to me to hear Paul speak and that he was confirming many of the conclusions I had come to myself. The following diagram from Gartner illustrates how a mobile architecture looks and what pieces need to be considered;

Mobile Architecture Requirements

If you consider Aruba to just be a wireless infrastructure company, then only one of the above circles applies. I would argue, however, that Aruba is steadily developing a portfolio of solutions to mobility needs in the enterprise. An example would be ClearPass Policy Manager. This fits clearly into the identity and security circle. The recently announced acquisition of Meridian Apps also fits clearly into the application architecture circle.

The WLAN market is clearly changing. This is a good thing as we are moving beyond simply how to get things to work (which is of course still important) to enabling people to be more flexible and satisfied at work. This survey on BYOD and Mobile Security (slide 2) puts the number one benefit of BYOD as being greater employee satisfaction and productivity. I would encourage others to shift their focus as well to looking at the bigger picture of what we are doing in this business. We are transforming the way people work, live and play in giving them the tools to be mobile and always connected.

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