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Incredible Shrinking WLAN Gear Market

HP's acquisition of Colubris continues to the sublimation of wireless startups into well-established networking companies.
It began with Siemens acquisition of Chantry, Cisco's purchase of Airespace, and most recently, Belden's acquisition of Trapeze. Colubris has a long history of selling to carriers and the transportation industry, but they've had a tough time selling beyond those markets, despite the excellence they've developed. Their architectural approach (supporting both centralized and distributed designs) is solid, and as Colubris execs liked to point out, imitated first by Trapeze and in some part by Meru and Aruba.

HP has made it clear that their customers trust them to provide long product lifecycles and so HP has tried to stay above the fray, going easy on the marketing, letting Procurve's Ethernet switching division take the lead, and OEMing some product from Symbol (now Motorola) in the background. It's possible that one of the two parties didn't feel comfortable working with the other giant, or perhaps HP felt it was time to something more comprehensive that was fully their own.

But even though Colubris' products are in HP's portfolio, they're no near-term threat to Cisco. Yes, HP had a great quarter of switched ports, but Cisco's enterprise wireless product line continues to capture the mindshare of enterprises worldwide, and their market tracking firms confirm that in each report. It will take time for Colubris' products to meld into the HP way of things and just as much time, if not more, of HP's direct and reseller sales force to promote them.

For those organizations looking for a wireless vendor today, the next obvious question is where Aerohive, Meru, and Xirrus will fall. And if someone like Dell wouldn't as Aruba to their product line like they've done on their storage products.