HP-Aruba Acquisition Creating Opportunity For Wi-Fi Competitors

Following the unveiling last week that Hewlett-Packard will acquire Aruba Networks, various wireless competitors are jumping on the opportunity to try to convert some partners who are hesitant of starting a new relationship.

"Since the acquisition announcement last Monday, we have received many inbound calls from concerned Aruba partners," said Shane Buckley, CEO of the wireless vendor Xirrus. "This disruption creates opportunities to convert Aruba-HP customers to Xirrus."

Buckley said not only are Aruba partners and customers reviewing assets, but HP partners also are looking at their investments in the wireless networking company Colubris and networking equipment maker 3Com, which were both acquired by HP several years ago.

[Related: Aruba: Partners Will Profit From HP Acquisition, Open System Networking Vision]

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"With the addition of Aruba products, existing or potential HP Wi-Fi customers immediately have to question the commitment and longevity in their HP investment. Should they abandon their current investment and start over?" said Buckley. "Aruba customers are likely not all HP switching customers. How does this impact the decision to stick with Aruba or start over elsewhere? How will this integration impact the product road map Aruba has defined for its customers? ... This acquisition will likely have an impact on both vendors' Wi-Fi product portfolios, causing disruption for existing customers of both HP and Aruba."

On Monday, wireless vendor Aerohive Networks launched a Get Me Off This Island limited-time special program exclusively to existing Aruba customers and partners who are wary of the acquisition. The program offers them up to a 25 percent discount off Aerohive wireless and networking products, effective immediately until Dec. 31, 2015. HP's $3 billion acquisition deal is expected to close between May and October.

Aerohive executives said their company is being contacted by Aruba partners seeking a possible new vendor.

"Whenever there's any kind of uncertainty, as a competitor you want to jump all over that to either take some share or take some channel partners," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. "If there's any type of uncertainty, if you can offer the partner some sort of certainty, that obviously puts their minds at ease."

Kerravala doesn't believe a significant number of Aruba or HP partners will change wireless vendors.

"I just can't see them jumping ship right now before seeing how the acquisition is going to play out," said Kerravala.

He also thinks HP will treat Aruba differently from previous acquisitions, which will actually boost both channels.

"In both the Colubris and 3Com cases, HP acquired their technology and they tried to integrate that technology into their business. I think, in this case, they bought Aruba as a company, not just as a technology and they're going to let Aruba run autonomously as an HP division, but they're not trying to take it over," said Kerravala. "I see it helping partners."