Atha said he couldn't be more bullish about the Aruba business prospects going forward. Advantel's Aruba business was up 30 percent in 2016 – the fifth consecutive year of double digit sales growth.
"We are very optimistic about the future with Aruba," said Atha."The Clearpass security software platform has been a game changer for us. Customers are wildly excited about it because it allows them to get their arms around the completely mobile enterprise."
Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, an Aruba an HPE partner, No. 187 on the CRN SP500, said he was glad that founder Melkote is taking the sales reins for Aruba rather than an outsider.
"Melkote has the domain knowledge associated with all the innovation that has come from Aruba," said Venero. "It's very important to the channel and the market that they have the right person in that job because there are definitely kinks in Cisco's armor that are being exploited by companies like Aruba. It is important to continue to have someone like Melkote pursuing it with the same drive and dedication that Dominic had."
John Barker, CEO and co-founder of Versatile Communications, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider and top Aruba partner, said he was "surprised" that Orr was retiring, but praised HPE's decision to select founder Melkote to lead the networking company.
"Keerti is a lot of the brains behind the operation there, so it will give [the channel] some comfort," said Barker. "People can feel a little better that he's the leader." And even with Orr out of the picture, Barker said he still expects his company's Aruba business to grow 30 percent this year.
Before his retirement, Orr wanted to oversee the integration of the Aruba wireless networking business and the HPE wired networking business which are now fully integrated together under a single partner program, said Melkote. "Dom wanted to make sure that we had a combined organization that came together culturally in a single organization," said Melkote."That job is accomplished."
Melkote said he will continue to rely on Orr for counsel and advice going forward. "Dom's not taking another job," said Melkote. "He's going to continue to be an advisor to the company. He's still taking meetings with customers post his last day. We are hosting customers at his home. So I think the relationship with the market will continue through Dom and we'll definitely leverage that moving forward."