management company AirWave Wireless for $37m, about twice what it had
raised from VCs. The deal looks good for Aruba and its customers, but
perhaps not so good for Airwave customers.
Aruba already offers wireless LAN management, but like other Wi-Fi vendors, its technology is geared towards it own APs. AirWave's main product was management for Wi-Fi networks that use multiple vendor's APs. In addition to Aruba, it supports APS from market leader Cisco Systems as well as those from other competitors like Motorola, Trapeze, Meru, HP ProCurve, Proxim and even mesh vendor Tropos. By buying AirWave, Aruba gets a way to help it interoperate with customers' existing wireless networks " an important differentiator, as greenfield wireless LANs are now relatively rare. Unless customers are willing to rip out and replace their entire network, many are locked in to their current vendor when extending a network or upgrading to 802.11n.
However, Aruba already had access to AirWave's technology, through an 18-month old partnership that involved both joint marketing and integrating the AirWave software into Aruba's management system. The acquisition will likely mean deeper integration, which might not please AirWave customers who don't use Aruba " though Aruba says it is committed to cross-vendor interoperability, and will need to maintain this in order for the technology to work. It also means that the acquisition was probably motivated in part by AirWave's customer list, which includes many non-Aruba users who have already demonstrated a willingness to switch AP vendors.