Aruba Networks Channel Chief Departs, Replacement Confirmed

Bob Bruce, Aruba's vice president of channel sales, left the company earlier this month, an Aruba spokesperson confirmed. Taking over the role will be Jim Harold, former worldwide channel boss at Blue Coat Systems, who officially starts as Aruba's vice president, channel sales, on Aug. 23.

Bruce could not be reached for comment. Aruba said Bruce decided to retire and pursue consulting opportunities.

[Related: The Most Significant IT Executive Moves of 2012 (So Far) ]

Bruce, a tech veteran of more than three decades, is a well-known networking channel executive. Before joining Aruba in December 2009, he held channel and sales executive positions at Meru Networks, Juniper Networks, and, for nearly a decade, Cisco, where he was vice president of U.S. channels and later headed up service provider channels.

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Harold, who was most recently vice president, global channel sales at data protection specialist SafeNet, is also well-known to partners. He was vice president, worldwide channel sales at Blue Coat until about a year ago, ousted as part of a change to Blue Coat's executive structure that decentralized channel management in favor of regional leaders. Before joining Blue Coat in 2008, Harold held channel and sales roles at NetApp, Enterasys, Infoblox, Ingrian and Nortel.

The channel chief transition comes at a critical time in Aruba's history, when it's shored up its position as the No. 2 vendor behind Cisco in the cutthroat enterprise wireless LAN market, but is also expanding its technology purview toward network security, cloud management and Aruba solutions for BYOD and enterprise mobility, as well as SMB and midmarket customers.

Aruba for years was not known as a channel advocate, but Aruba partners agreed that under Bruce, its program and partner outreach were stepped up.

"He personalized the mission. He was very personable and he spent a lot of time with us," said Bill Annino, vice president, data technologies group at Carousel Industries, an Exeter, R.I.-based solution provider. "He took a major channel stance for the Aruba brand."

Annino, who sits on Aruba's partner advisory council, said Bruce listened to the council and acted on a number of its recommendations, citing Aruba's social media outreach, partner-centric marketing programs and emphasis on services as examples. Annino urged Harold to keep the lines open with Aruba's strategic partners as he gets under way.

"I'm hoping to have the same level of accessibility," Annino said. "I'm hoping that he will be there for the council as Bob was."

Ben Gibson, Aruba's chief marketing officer, said Aruba's channel partners remain critical to its success in the WLAN and mobility markets.

"We are intensifying our investments with our loyal partners, particularly in broader sales, technical training and services offerings," Gibson said in a statement emailed to CRN. "The market has high demand for partners that offer the rare, combined expertise of wireless LAN, security and mobile device management. With Jim's leadership, we plan to fulfill this demand and further accelerate our partner growth in 2013."

Aruba is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results on Aug. 23.

Published Aug. 10, 2012