Juniper Stomps Into Crowded WLAN Space With Trapeze Buy

Juniper Networks on Tuesday confirmed it will acquire enterprise wireless LAN vendor Trapeze Networks from Trapeze's parent Belden Inc. The all-cash deal, which has been rumored for months, is valued at about $152 million and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Industry observers had been expecting the deal for some time, and it marks a long-awaited entry by Juniper into the crowded and hyper-competitive wireless LAN space. Back in September, several sources reported that Juniper had kicked the tires on a number of wireless LAN vendors and that Trapeze was thought to be the choice.

"With the acquisition of Trapeze Networks, we extend our industry leading routing, security and switching portfolio with proven and innovative WLAN technology that will enable our customers to provide a seamless, high-quality, secure experience to their users regardless of where and how they access their network," said David Yen, Juniper's executive vice president and general manager, Fabric and Switching Technologies, in a statement. "Juniper's strong history of technology execution combined with Trapeze's accomplished team ideally positions the company to deliver end-to-end high performance networking for the world's most demanding networks."

Juniper will gain Trapeze's 17 awarded and 49 pending patents, as well as Trapeze's Smart Mobile WLAN architecture, and more than 6,000 existing Trapeze customers. According to a statement, Juniper will integrate Trapeze's WLAN products into its own routing, security and switching portfolio. Juniper did not provide details on executive changes or how Trapeze's channel program will be folded into its own.

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Trapeze was acquired by Belden in June 2008 for $133 million, and has maintained a modest, but loyal channel since. More recently, Trapeze revamped its partner program in an effort to target fewer and more strategic VARs. According to Ray Glynn, vice president of channel sales, the Americas, at Trapeze, Belden cut about 40 VARs from its program earlier this year and raised 11 of its existing Gold partners to the new Platinum level.

"As the leader in high-performance networking, Juniper represents the ideal provider for us to unlock the value of Trapeze Networks in the global enterprise market," said John Stroup, president and CEO of Belden, in a statement. "This agreement enables our organization to remain focused on the long-term growth opportunities for wireless technology in our core markets, including the nascent industrial networking market."

Acquisitions by Juniper have been rare in the last five years, and Trapeze represents its largest since 2005. In July, Juniper acquired SMobile Systems, a maker of software and mobile security products for tablets and smartphones. Before that, in April, it acquired Ankeena Networks, a maker of software for optimizing infrastructure for video and rich media content delivery.

Having a WLAN option at enterprise-savvy Juniper opens up another theater of competition against archrival Cisco, with whom Juniper battles tooth-and-nail in everything from enterprise infrastructure to core routing. It will also bring Juniper into competition -- in many cases, for the first time -- with Aruba Networks, Meru Networks, Ruckus Wireless, Aerohive and the panorama of wireless LAN vendors, veteran and upstart, in the space, as well as the larger networking vendors, such as Motorola and HP, with wireless practices.

Dell'Oro Group recently estimated that enteprise WLAN will grow from $2.2 billion in 2010 to $3.4 billion in 2014.