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HPE Aruba Founder, Network Visionary Keerti Melkote Is Leaving HPE

“I’m incredibly grateful for his leadership, and I have personally benefitted from his counsel, knowledge and friendship,” said HPE CEO Antonio Neri. “Keerti will remain as an advisor to me for the remainder of [HPE Fiscal Year] 2021.”

Keerti Melkote, who founded Aruba Networks and built it into a powerful cloud-first alternative to networking behemoth Cisco Systems, has stepped aside as president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s intelligent edge business as of June 1.

Melkote is being replaced by HPE Senior Vice President of the Communications Group Phil Mottram, a seasoned 30-year telecommunications veteran who has worked at Vodafone, AT&T, Sprint, British Telecom, and Telstra. Before joining HPE two years ago, Mottram was Chief Revenue Officer for the Zayo Group, a mission-critical fiber bandwidth provider.

[Related: Keerti Melkote On Aruba ESP Vs. Cisco Meraki, Silver Peak Plans, And How Aruba As-A-Service Isn’t Simply Repackaging]

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced the Aruba changing of the guard on the company’s quarterly earnings call Tuesday, even as HPE’s Aruba intelligent edge business posted impressive 17 percent growth in sales to $799 million.

“I am tremendously pleased with Aruba’s impressive performance, and it is against this successful backdrop that I wanted to share that Aruba founder Keerti Melkote has made the decision to retire from HPE,” said Neri.

Neri, who drove the landmark HPE acquisition of Aruba in 2015, said Melkote has been instrumental in building a $3 billion HPE Aruba business. Melkote founded Aruba Networks in 2002.

“I’m incredibly grateful for his leadership and I have personally benefitted from his counsel, knowledge and friendship,” said Neri. “Keerti will remain as an advisor to me for the remainder of [HPE Fiscal Year] 2021.”

Neri called Mottram a “results-driven leader with extensive experience implementing growth strategies and leading transformation initiatives.”

As the general manager of the communications technology group, Mottram was responsible for leading 5,000 HPE employees, driving $3.5 billion in total revenue for HPE, said Neri.

“I am excited to welcome Phil into this new role and believe he is the perfect fit to ensure we maintain our leadership position and momentum in the market,” said Neri.

In an interview with CRN following the earnings call, Neri said there are no changes in organizational structure or strategy with Melkote’s departure. “Let me be clear: nothing changes,” he said. “Obviously I am incredibly grateful to Keerti. He gave us six years after the acquisition I did in 2015. He is an advisor 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.”

The Aruba “customer-first, customer-last” culture will remain intact, said Neri.

Mottram, in fact, reassured HPE Aruba employees in an email that he was “humbled and honored” to lead the business, said Neri, emphasizing that there is no change in strategy or organizational structure.

Neri called Mottram an “amazing, transformative” leader 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 Keerti over the last few years. It is all about keeping our momentum and continuing to grow at a fast pace.”

Mottram announced in February that the newly formed Communications Technology Group was created to help enterprises and telcos take advantage of the 5G opportunity. He also pledged a 25 percent reduction in total cost of ownership for telecom providers implementing the new HPE GreenLake Open RAN (Radio Access Network) cloud-native solution stack.

“The telecom industry is in the midst of an unprecedented technological transformation,” said Mottram at the time. “5G promises to revolutionize the telecoms landscape, but this journey is still in its early stages. The shift from previous-generation networks built on proprietary systems to open, cloud-native platforms utilizing commercial off-the-shelf infrastructure along with modular software components from multiple vendors is the biggest challenge facing the industry today.”

Paul Cohen, vice president of sales for New York-based PKA Technologies, a top HPE and Aruba partner, credited Melkote as a visionary founder who paved the way for the edge computing revolution.

In fact, Cohen said, Melkote successfully challenged Cisco with an approach that has paid big dividends for HPE. “It was David vs. Goliath, and now David is winning,” he said. “The playing field with Cisco is more level than it has ever been.”

Melkote had an uncanny ability to “read the technology tea leaves,” said Cohen. “HPE and the partners will always be indebted to him. Everything starts and ends at the edge. Keerti knew that, and he built Aruba from the ground up to be an edge computing powerhouse.”

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