Aruba Networks on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Ben Gibson as its new chief marketing officer. Gibson, a 20-year industry veteran, comes from Cisco, where he was most recently vice president of data center and virtualization marketing.
Gibson who started at Aruba last week, reports to Aruba COO Hitesh Sheth, and is responsible for Aruba's global marketing efforts. His last job at Cisco was focused on data center, but he was perhaps better known in the Cisco channel for his previous role heading up Cisco's enterprise mobility solutions marketing organization.
Gibson joins Aruba at a most interesting time in its history, with the competition in the enterprise WLAN space more intense than ever, and Aruba itself working to build a top-flight partner program.
A "confluence of market dynamics," Gibson said, was part of what brought him to the company.
"802.11n has been a seminal moment in the wireless industry. We're seeing that reflected in market performance and in all the projections," Gibson told CRN in an interview Tuesday. "You have all these different mobile devices brought into the enterprise, including a host of different smartphones, and that's a key inflection point in the market for our reseller partners. There's been such a significant shift in how users connect, and the devices they use to do so, and the applications they are running to and from these devices."
Before Cisco, which he joined in 2005, Gibson was a vice president of marketing for Meru Networks, and before that, he had the same role at Proxim. Earlier in his career, Gibson held various executive positions at Atrica, 3Com and Adaptec.
He'll find a number of familiar faces at Aruba, including well-traveled channel executive Bob Bruce, now Aruba's vice president, worldwide channel sales. Bruce is a former Cisco channel chief as well as a vice president of North American sales for Meru.
Gibson said it's important to position Aruba as not just a WLAN device or infrastructure company, but as an enterprise mobility company.
"It's an interesting time in the life of Aruba scaling up to that next level," he said. "It's growing from its beginnings focused on wireless LAN to much more enterprise mobility, and catching that wave at just the right time. Everyone is well focused on the products in this space, but I think the market demands a broader architectural approach to network access. Aruba has a great chance to expand its perception."
Gibson will spend his first 60-90 days meeting with Aruba partners and customers. His experience as the former VP of an Aruba competitor will help him craft a compelling message, he said, and he will retain Aruba's existing marketing team as he gets underway.
Gibson is based in San Jose. He hadn't planned on leaving Cisco, he said, but the opportunity at Aruba was too good to pass up.
"There's a lot to love about a company like Cisco," Gibson said. "But the market size and the confluence here, and the people, and the role, were important. There was no plan [to leave Cisco] prior, but that's what pulled me into this."