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Aruba Pushes Into Industrial Mesh With Azalea Acquistion

Wireless networking vendor Aruba Networks has announced the acquisition of Azalea Networks, maker of outdoor wireless mesh network products for industrial applications.  Expected to close in 90 days, Azalea adds an element missing from Aruba's product lineup: long range, wireless outdoor products. It also opens new markets for the company, as well as delivering an R&D stronghold in Azalea's native China.

Where Aruba's product focus has historically been on short-range, carpeted-office deployments, Azalea's primary focus has been on delivering wireless mesh solutions for rugged industrial applications such as oil and gas, public safety, and shipyards. The five-year-old company has developed a outdoor mesh solution that delivers high-speed, low-latency connectivity in point-to-point, point-to-multi-point or pure-mesh wireless deployments. Through a combination of its adaptive-wireless routing algorithm and proprietary error correction functions, Azalea claims its solutions can carry broadcast-quality video across its wireless networks. Azalea's access points avoid a central controller for smaller deployments, using a centralized management controller for command and control functions only for networks larger than 50 access points.

The key for Aruba, of course, is integrating both Azalea into its own stable of solutions and corporate structure. Fortunately, the two companies offer complimentary technologies with no perceivable overlap, eliminating the need to cut any existing products in order to bring Azalea's outdoor mesh solutions into the fold. Likewise, Aruba's primary management solution, based on its acquisition of Airwave, is designed to be vendor-neutral, which will certainly go a long way in giving centralized visibility to both the indoor and outdoor wireless products.  

For enterprises, the Azalea acquisition ultimately brings a new player into the industrial market, as well as a new option for campus wide connectivity. Today, the market is served by either dedicated mesh vendors such as Firetide and Tropos, or larger incumbents in the enterprise wireless space including Motorola and Cisco. The addition of Azalea's industrial mesh products, along with Aruba's existing market presence, will certainly garner Aruba a seat at the table as more enterprise wireless networks become not only a primary source of access for many end-users, but a viable alternative when connecting all corners an enterprise's facilities.