Ruckus Wireless Woos 'Spurned' Trapeze VARs


Last week, St. Louis-based Belden Corp. announced plans to acquire wireless vendor Pleasanton, Calif.-based Trapeze for $133 million in cash. Belden made the buy to add a controller-based WLAN product line to its existing wired LAN portfolio of copper and fiber cabling, cable management and connectivity products. According to a statement from Belden, the goal of the Trapeze buy was to make it a "unified wired and wireless solutions" vendor.

David Callisch, vice president of marketing for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Ruckus said that for the next 90 days, Ruckus will offer Trapeze resellers what it's calling a "Smart Wi-Fi Survival Kit" in hopes to bring them over to Ruckus' Big Dog partner program. The move, Callisch said, is an effort to help networking resellers stick with a true wireless play as opposed to offering a Belden/Trapeze mash-up that involves selling specialty wire, cable and cord products for the electronics and electrical markets.

"It's an excuse for VARs to find an alternative," Callisch said. "This acquisition is an excuse to go looking."

The survival kit offers resellers who make the switch automatic certification into the Ruckus Big Dog program as a top level gold partner; equipment rebates, which include credits toward Ruckus ZoneFlex orders; a complimentary Ruckus Smart Wireless LAN starter kit; free sales and technical training and guaranteed gross margins for existing qualified opportunities that are converted to Ruckus ZoneFlex systems over the next three months.

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Ruckus has built its platform around what it calls "smart Wi-Fi," a patented technology the vendor claims extends the range and reliability of Wi-Fi by forming and directing signals over the best path at any given time. Ruckus' ZoneFlex Smart WLAN system combines smart Wi-Fi with centralized WLAN management and wireless mesh networking, which Callisch says offers resellers a differentiated wireless solution.

"Trapeze was one of the few wireless LAN players that built a channel full of smart resellers that have now been effectively left high and dry," Rob Mustarde, Ruckus' vice president of worldwide sales, said in a statement. "We are offering the next phase of smart wireless LAN products and technology that is highly differentiated with better margins, broader market opportunity and a more streamlined sales process."

According to Ruckus, which is sold exclusively through the channel, Big Dog partners don't compete with OEM vendors for accounts and are offered margins and the ability to register opportunities.

Callisch said as part of Ruckus' attempt to win over Trapeze VARs, the vendor is selecting some and sending them a piece of Ruckus technology, a small bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey and a Ruckus Wireless shot glass. Inside is a not that reads "take two of these and call me in the morning."

Trapeze, however, said its 200-plus partner channel will remain strong, and backing by Belden will only help it solidify.

"Belden is dead serious about making Wi-Fi a part of the infrastructure," said Brian Johnson, a Trapeze spokesman, adding that Trapeze will likely remain a standalone division under the Belden umbrella.

According to Johnson, Trapeze's channel and Belden's channel also have a significant number of overlapping partners already.

"You can bet that Belden and Cisco [Systems Inc.] are going to be invited to any party a company throws," Johnson said, adding that VARs are looking for vendors that can offer a rounded out wired and unwired play.

As for Ruckus' attempt to win over Trapeze partners, Johnson simply said "good luck."

Ruckus has set up a Web site to help Trapeze VARs get into the Ruckus mix.