Networking News

Juniper's New WLAN Competitors Skeptical Of Trapeze Acquisition

Chad Berndtson

Juniper Networks' $152 million acquisition of Trapeze Networks was long rumored, and it thrusts Juniper headlong into the intensely competitive enterprise wireless LAN market.

That means new competition against both its entrenched rivals and a host of wireless LAN specialists Juniper has never faced before, many of whom in interviews with CRN brushed off the idea of an immediate threat from Juniper.

Juniper confirmed the acquisition from Trapeze parent Belden Inc. Tuesday, and said it expects the all-cash deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"Trapeze provides the highest levels of wireless LAN reliability, performance, security and management for today's most demanding mobile applications," wrote David Yen, executive vice president of Juniper's Data Center Business Group, in a Tuesday blog post. "Its product lines are synergistic and highly complementary to Juniper's campus and branch switching, routing and security business."

"It's a shrewd move," said David Callisch, vice president of marketing for Ruckus Wireless. "They get a good product line and it'll allow them to compete more effectively in the enterprise with Aruba and Cisco. They've been looking for a wireless LAN system to take with them into high-end enterprise accounts, and they deserve credit for making the move."

Callisch said it isn't Ruckus' business that'll be challenged by Juniper. Ruckus's stronghold is midmarket and SMB wireless, and its focus is on radio frequency management.

"We believe that RF management will define enterprise wireless networking in the future," Callisch said.

Ram Appalaraju, senior vice president of marketing at Meru Networks, said Juniper's status as a relative first-timer in wireless will show, at least in the short term.

"Juniper's acquisition of Trapeze serves as yet another validation of the growth of WLANs as a critical and strategic part of the enterprise network," said Appalaraju in a statement to CRN. "While this will be Juniper's first step into wireless, it will take considerable innovation from them to offer a wireless offering with wire-like reliability to support the business-critical applications facing the market today."

Greg Murphy, vice president of marketing at Aruba Networks -- once thought to be Juniper's top WLAN acquisition target -- similarly regarded the move.

"As a leader in the development of integrated access networks, we have long seen others merging to pursue what the market has shown to be a very healthy opportunity," said Murphy in a statement to CRN. "Our track record of solving customer needs and technological innovation has positioned us well, and we are confident in our ability to continue to lead."

In the statement, Aruba described Trapeze as "an early pioneer in the WLAN market," but also a "minor player with low market share and limited success competing against market leaders." Juniper, according to Aruba, "is a leader in service provider routing but relatively weak in the access market."

Cisco, with which Juniper competes in everything from data networking to core routing already and which holds the No. 1 spot in wireless LAN market share, declined to comment to CRN.

NEXT: Rumored For Months

In the weeks leading up to the Trapeze buy, Juniper was said to have been in acquisition talks with a number of WLAN vendors. According to Network World, which reported the talks, Trapeze was the one it settled on.

A source with direct knowledge of the talks told CRN those rumors were true, and that Juniper met with Trapeze, Aruba, Meru, Ruckus, Meraki and several other vendors over the summer.

"They brought everyone in about four months ago, and had them walk through, and made it clear what they were interested in," said the source, who spoke under condition of anonymity.

Trapeze, which controls about 2 percent of the WLAN market, was founded in 2002, and acquired by Belden for $133 million in June 2008.

The company recently revamped its channel program, cutting a number of VARs and raising the status of its top performers to a new Platinum level.

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