Aruba Affirms Identity With Integrated Portfolio

When HP announced its plans to buy Aruba Networks a year ago, some networking pros were anxious about how the tech giant would handle the $3 billion acquisition of a top WLAN vendor. After all, acquired companies sometimes don’t fare too well and HP’s track record in wireless acquisitions was poor. Would Aruba fade into obscurity?

Now, about 10 months after the deal was finalized, it’s clear that Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is sticking with the Aruba brand. As an HPE company, Aruba is holding its user and partner conference in Las Vegas this week and rolled out a new integrated wireless and wired portfolio, along with new capabilities for its WLAN management and security software.

HPE’s ProVision line of campus switches has now been rebranded as Aruba and features Aruba-OS-Switch, an operating system that integrates capabilities from the ArubaOS and HPE ProVisionOS operating systems. The new Aruba 3810 switch series includes HPE Smart Rate multi-gigabit ports to support 802.11ac Wave 2 equipment without the need for new cabling. Likewise, the new Aruba 330 wireless access point supports HPE Smart Rate.

With the software integration, the campus switches now feature Aruba’s “zero-touch” deployment and multi-vendor network management.

Aruba also introduced a new software module for its AirWave management software that is designed to make WiFi troubleshooting more proactive. In addition, the company updated its ClearPass Policy Manager to enable custom profiling for IoT devices.

I contacted a few networking experts to get their take on the HP-Aruba deal and its outcome; it seems that early concerns have been assuaged.

“HPE has handled the Aruba acquisition as well as anyone could have hoped,” Tom Hollingsworth, a network engineer and blogger, told me in an email. “The emphasis on the quality of the Aruba brand name and the recognition that it brings in the wireless space has helped them keep their position as the number 2 wireless equipment vendor.”

“Likewise, by having Dominic Orr take over the HPE networking business, it shows that HPE and Aruba are committed to continuing to develop new networking strategies in the campus and data center,” he added. Orr was Aruba’s president and CEO before the merger with HPE.

WLAN pro Lee Badman said he’s followed the acquisition as a potential Aruba customer on a specific service.

“Thankfully, at least from my perspective, HP has done well to let Aruba stay fairly pure as customers have known the company. I know there was early angst among my colleagues that work for Aruba or VARs, but I have heard nothing but positive of late,” he wrote in an email.

Nolan Greene, research analyst at IDC, said Aruba’s commitment to multi-vendor support in its portfolio is an interesting and contrasting strategy to its largest competitor, Cisco.

“As for the acquisition, I think it’s going as smoothly as one could hope for. Aruba has had a positive impact on the HPE bottom line (even though they are a small part of it),” he said in an email interview.  

Greene noted that HPE retained a large portion of Aruba’s executive talent, and the rationalization of the overlapping product lines is moving along faster than he would have ever expected.

“WLAN-acquisition wise, perhaps the third time is the charm for HPE,” he said, referring to HPE’s failure to capitalize on its past acquisitions of Colubris and 3Com.

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