Aruba Partners: Founder Keerti Melkote Is Leaving HPE With ‘Big Shoes To Fill’

‘[Melkote] has been at the forefront and has been able to keep HPE’s fingerprint on the Aruba line in check, and it’s a successful product line,’ one longtime Aruba channel partner tells CRN.


Keerti Melkote, the founder of 19-year-old networking company Aruba Networks, is retiring as president of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise-owned $3 billion business unit. Partners are feeling the loss, even as HPE promises no changes to Aruba’s structure or strategy.

“If you look at his body of work in Aruba, even since the HPE acquisition, it’s nothing short of amazing. There are definitely big shoes to fill,” said Joel Grace, vice president of engineering and emerging technologies at Vernon Hills, Ill.-based Sayers, an Aruba Platinum partner, on Melkote’s departure.

HPE announced that Melkote would be stepping down during the company’s earnings call for its second fiscal quarter on Tuesday evening. Following the call, HPE CEO Antonio Neri told CRN that “nothing changes” for the Aruba business’ organizational structure or strategy as Melkote takes his leave.

Sponsored post

[Related: Aruba Wi-Fi 6E AP Will Create Spectrum ‘Superhighway’ For Enterprise Connectivity]

“Obviously I am incredibly grateful to [Melkote]. He gave us six years after the acquisition I did in 2015. He is an adviser to me and a dear friend. He spent almost 20 years of his life building this business. Obviously people step back and look at what they want to do next,” Neri said.

Melkote is staying on as an adviser to Neri for the remainder of 2021. “I’m incredibly grateful for his leadership, and I have personally benefited from his counsel, knowledge, and friendship,” Neri said.

Gary Berzack, CTO of eTribeca, a New York City-based solution provider and Aruba wireless partner, called Melkote a “technological driving force” for nearly two decades.

“[Melkote] has been at the forefront and has been able to keeps HPE’s fingerprint on the Aruba line in check, and it’s a successful product line,” Berzack said.

Aruba has always done a “fantastic job” in the partner community compared with some of its competitors, Sayers’ Grace said.

“[Aruba] does everything you could ask for in a technology partner for us, so I’m certainly happy they’re not looking to change that [and] they’re going to maintain what they’ve been doing. Obviously, there’s going to be innovation and new and exciting things down the line, but everything is working very well right now,” he said.

Melkote told CRN in an interview that there’s never a good time to say goodbye to a company you created, but that his No. 1 priority is for Aruba to grow and thrive and that now was the time to bring in fresh energy and talent.

“If there’s ever a time to leave, it’s when [business] is up and to the right,” Melkote said. “As we come back out of the pandemic, business is looking up. In Q2, we had 20 percent growth year over year and it only will accelerate from here. The momentum in the business is phenomenal … the best time to bring in top talent is when things are going really well.

Melkote told CRN that partners are at the heart of everything Aruba does and that the company has a “co-dependent” relationship with its channel.

Melkote in his blog post on his departure paid tribute to Aruba’s partners. “To Aruba’s partners, we have stood by you all these years like you have stood by us and I hope that partnership will continue well into the future as we continue to innovate together for our joint customers.”

Aruba, which specializes in intelligent edge and wireless solutions, has been a huge driver of growth for HPE in recent quarters. In fact, HPE’s edge-as-a-service business grew by triple digits during second-quarter 2021. The Aruba Edge Service Platform—which includes SD-WAN from the recent HPE Silver Peak acquisition—is coming into its own as a “meaningful contributor” to HPE’s overall annualized revenue run rate, Neri said on Tuesday evening. The platform currently supports more than 100,000 customers with 150 new customers added every day, the company said.

Effective June 1, Melkote was replaced by HPE Senior Vice President of the Communications Group Phil Mottram, a 30-year telecommunications veteran who has worked at Vodafone, AT&T, Sprint, British Telecom and, most recently, Zayo Group, before joining HPE two years ago.

Mottram’s telecom background, especially as Aruba focuses on weaving 5G technology into the traditional networking stack, will be important in helping Aruba stay at the forefront of the market, partners said.

Neri referred to Aruba‘s new leader as “transformative” and an executive who has strong relationships with customers and partners. “I feel that we have a new leader that will bring this to new heights, and he has a fantastic team around him, which was built from [Melkote] over the last few years. It is all about keeping our momentum and continuing to grow at a fast pace,” he told CRN.

Aruba’s founder and president isn’t the only executive leaving the company. Melkote in his blog published Tuesday evening also revealed that two of the company’s earliest employees, Aruba CTO Partha Narasimhan and Pradeep Iyer, Aruba’s chief architect, have also left the company but will continue to serve in advisory roles during Aruba’s leadership transition.

HPE purchased Aruba Networks for $2.7 billion in May 2015.