Thoughts on the HP acquisition of Aruba Networks

Twitter has been abuzz since last week with the leaked news, now official, that HP has entered an agreement to acquire Aruba Networks. As such there are plenty of people both for and against this in the WLAN community. I wanted to put some immediate thoughts up here on this transaction;

  • First congratulations to Aruba, I’m happy for all my friends there who have worked hard over the years to build a great company.
  • As much as can be read from this from press announcements, it seems like Dom & Keerti will be heading up what will be the new subsidiary of HP which seems to be a combination of the HP Networking division and Aruba.
  • There has been much consternation online about HP’s previous missteps acquiring companies and that it could ‘ruin’ Aruba. I understand the worry, but I believe it to be overstated. We don’t really know how things will turn out and knowing what strong leaders Dom & Keerti are and the smart way they have got to where they are in the industry, I don’t believe for a second they would let things go badly for Aruba without a fight.
  • Having HP, a _much_ larger company, giving Aruba backing, plus that HP’s switching is fairly well regarded in a lot of customers, gives Aruba some serious ammo to go after Cisco, the market leader. It could also turn out that it gives Aruba capital it needs to expand into area’s of the market they have not played a lot in as well. Expansion of a company is always limited by the amount of capital it has available.
  • The flip side of this is that HP could overwhelm Aruba. I know a few good people currently working in HP and I know that they have been working hard to change some of the negative perceptions HP has. This is a smart move by HP as they are not only buying a good company, but also a lot of goodwill Aruba has built already.
  • This also marks for the WLAN industry in general that we are moving from a phase of rapid growth and startup like mentality to one of more established businesses that are dominant forces in IT. It’s actually a good thing that WLANs have become so central to doing business and no longer are just a ‘nice to have’.
  • Like all changes, there will be people who won’t like it and will move on just because of the uncertainty. I hope my friends at Aruba will see the great opportunity this gives them and will stay on to help grow the future there. I know some of the leadership may be looking to just move on to new ventures and I can understand that.

As others have mentioned, this could be the start of some major buyouts in the industry. Aerohive, Ruckus, Meru and others all could be targets for others to gain an advantage. This is a big one for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other moves by HP’s competitors to gain a team of smart WLAN guys. As a WLAN professional I am looking forward to more exciting things to come!

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