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Did Aruba Buy AirWave for Technology or Customers?

Wi-Fi access point vendor Aruba Networks has acquired

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.

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