Aruba Networks Replacing The Competition As Enterprises Leave ‘The Mothership’

“If you’re moving away from ‘the safe choice,’ I don’t see how you go anywhere else, based on size, based on the HPE resources that deliver for us, based on our global reach [and] breadth of portfolio,” an Aruba executive told CRN this week at Aruba Atmosphere 2023.


The pace at which Aruba Networks is snatching up market share and replacing competitive networking products within enterprise IT environments is quickening, according to the company’s executives.

“I see a lot of ‘win’ reports and many of them are competitive takeouts,” Larry Lunetta, Aruba’s vice president of WLAN and security solutions marketing, told CRN at Aruba Atmosphere 2023 this week.

Aruba Networks, owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, is coming off its most successful fiscal quarter having broken the $1 billion revenue mark in Q1 2023. The revenues for HPE’s Intelligent Edge business, Aruba Networks, represented a 25 percent year-over-year growth. These results, Aruba’s executives said, point to the market viewing HPE’s wireless networking arm as a credible option for their rapidly changing IT environments.

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“When you think about the alternative the customer has, there was a saying a long time ago: ‘No one ever got fired for buying IBM.’ Just fill in the blank -- that doesn’t last forever. And we’re seeing that now in the networking business,” Lunetta (pictured) said.

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Laketec Communications, Inc., an exclusive Aruba networking partner, spends its time upgrading existing infrastructure or replacing competitive products with Aruba, according to Ben Sterley, director of data services for Laketec.

“I would say that in many cases now, Aruba is a leader in the conversation of evaluation. We’re seeing a lot of times that customers that have never had Aruba in their infrastructure that are wholesale replacing. We’ve been seeing that for many years, and it continues to accelerate,” Sterley said.

Aruba, a leader in wireless networking, has spent the first few months of 2023 expanding its technology portfolio. The company announced two acquisitions in the last three months: cloud security software maker Axis Security in March and private cellular network technology provider Athonet in February. Axis’ technology is giving Aruba a unified, secure access service edge (SASE) offering, while Athonet’s expertise will help the company expand its edge-to-cloud and telecommunications portfolio and establish dominance in the private 5G arena.

The company has also been building out its core data center switching portfolio, a big area of focus for Aruba this year, according to Aruba President Phil Mottram.

“If you’re going to leave the mothership, you’re going to want to find a partner who also has the same kind of portfolio,” Lunetta said.

Incumbent vendors always have the upper hand in any replacement or refresh scenario. When competitive takeouts happen, it’s usually because the incumbent has gotten comfortable with their foothold in the market and the cost and features of a new provider start to become compelling, according to solution providers.

Many customers like to stay objective during a refresh by bringing in a handful of vendors – including the likes of Aruba, Arista Networks and Cisco Systems – for a bake-off, said Joel Grace, senior vice president of IT infrastructure and cloud practice for Sayers, a Vernon Hills, Ill.-based solution provider.

“When that happens, cost generally isn’t a big deal because they’re all going to race to the bottom on cost and it becomes a technology win. I do think that’s where Aruba shines. They have a very strong technology message, good tooling, good interfaces and a strong portfolio,” Grace said. “When costs are equal, Aruba’s a very strong technology play.”

HPE’s Aruba business has grown over the last three years, driven in part by the pandemic and enterprises shifting and transforming, said Aruba Worldwide Channel Chief Donna Grothjan.

“If we think about our growth, there’s no question that we’re taking share and that has to come with some level of replacement,” she told CRN. “Transformation drives the new opportunity, but a lot is ‘replacement is the new opportunity.’”

“If you’re moving away from ‘the safe choice,’ I don’t see how you go anywhere else, based on size, based on the HPE resources that deliver for us, based on our global reach [and] breadth of portfolio,” Aruba’s Lunetta said. “When you think about a C-level executive making that decision, those are the keys.”