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Several of Cisco and Meraki's wireless and cloud networking market competitors say that Cisco's $1.2 billion acquisition of Meraki validates many of the moves they've already made -- and raises their profile as channel partners that much more.
Many of the wireless segment's alternative vendors told CRN Tuesday that they plan to seize on Cisco and Meraki partner's anxiety and make some channel inroads.
"Cisco paid an awfully big price for an SMB company, and it's clear they bought them for provisioning," said David Callisch, vice president of marketing for Ruckus Wireless. "I guess it makes all of us in this space look good. But if I'm a reseller and I see this, am I better off with the Meraki stuff I bought or do I look at Ruckus, which just went public and did that on the back of the channel?"
Joel Vincent, director of product marketing for Aerohive Networks, said that Cisco's choice to pay nearly three times for Meraki what it did for Airespace -- the acquisition that cemented Cisco as a wireless LAN player in 2005 -- reinforces the idea that cloud networking is on "an exciting path."
"It's Cisco's 'modus operandi' to purchase innovation that leapfrogs its current offerings," Vincent said.
Aerohive gained notices for its controller-less approach to wireless LAN, and it soon moved into cloud management behind the 2011 acquisition of startup Pareto Networks. Often viewed as another IPO candidate, as Meraki was, Aerohive is also frequently mentioned as an acquisition target for a larger vendor like an HP or Dell.
Aerohive represents a better bet for channel partners, Vincent said.
"The challenge for the Meraki team will certainly be adapting to operating as part of a vastly larger organization and the non-technology challenges that poses," Vincent said. "Channel partners should start looking for alternative products immediately because there will be channel integration, many changes in structure, and therefore margin erosion in the near-term."
Shane Buckley, CEO of Xirrus, said that with industry research pointing to 90 percent of connections in enterprises going wireless in the coming years, vendors have to get their go-to-market strategies right immediately.
"Recent Wi-Fi market activity in the IPO market and with the recent announcement by Cisco on the Meraki acquisition further validate the importance and criticality of Wi-Fi to mainstream network buying trends," Buckley said in an email to CRN Tuesday. "There is clearly no doubt that Wi-Fi is a corner stone of the IT budget, and vendors such as Xirrus with clear differentiation are well positioned as enterprises look to deliver a user experience and a wireless network that performs as well as the wired network. While we're seeing consolidation in the wireless space, Xirrus continues to focus on innovation that can help companies deal with the immediate and massive shift from wired to wireless access."