Riverbed Technology announced today that agreed to acquire enterprise WLAN vendor Xirrus in a deal it said will bolster its software-defined WAN strategy.
The integration of Xirrus cloud-managed WiFi products into Riverbed's SteelConnect SD-WAN will give customers the ability to control user access and application performance "end-to-end across the entire distributed network," Riverbed said in announcing the acquisition.
Riverbed, best known for web optimization, made a big push into SD-WAN after acquiring German SD-WAN vendor Ocedo Networks early last year and quickly following up with the release of SteelConnect last spring.
The Xirrus deal, however, goes beyond SD-WAN, Shamus McGillicuddy, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associations, told me in an email interview. If viewed through the lens of Riverbed's competition with cloud-managed WiFi supplier Cisco Meraki, acquiring Xirrus makes a lot of sense for Riverbed by giving it a WiFi solution that can compete head-to-head, he said.
"Riverbed’s press releases on this deal talk about how it complements its SD-WAN solution, but this is much more about assembling a networking solution for the distributed enterprise that spans WAN and LAN technology.
"Riverbed SteelConnect is about more than SD-WAN. It’s really about cloud-based orchestration of network connectivity for distributed enterprises. It includes WAN connectivity, but also LAN connectivity in remote sites," he said.
Before the Xirrus acquisition, Riverbed's WiFi products were focused on the branch office, he said, adding that Riverbed had incorporated Ocedo's cloud-managed switches and WiFi APs that were mostly aimed at remote office LAN connectivity.
"Xirrus gives Riverbed an enterprise-class WLAN solution that can provide connectivity in high-density end user environments like hotels, convention centers, and sports venues," McGillicuddy said. "I think Riverbed will use this acquisition to target enterprises that want to take a cloud-based, orchestrated approach to providing WiFi connectivity in distributed environments, like hotel chains, school districts, state university systems, and government agencies. Anywhere that Meraki plays, Riverbed wants to compete."
The acquisition of Xirrus, founded in 2004 and based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., continues the rapid trend of consolidation in the WLAN market. HPE acquired Aruba Networks in 2015, and last year, Brocade acquired Ruckus Wireless. Brocade was then snapped up by Broadcom last fall, and the Ruckus business was sold earlier this year to Arris.
Riverbed said it will continue to sell Xirrus as a stand-alone product. The acquisition is expected to close in May. Financial terms were not disclosed.