Here's Who Made Gartner's 2016 Magic Quadrant For Wired And Wireless LAN Infrastructure

A Changing Landscape

The wired and wireless LAN landscape is changing significantly with a slew of acquisitions that consolidated the market as enterprises strive for a single vendor to deploy their access layer solutions, according to research firm Gartner.

In the past 18 months, Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquired Aruba Networks, Fortinet bought Meru Networks, Brocade Communications purchased Ruckus Wireless, and Allied Telesis nabbed Extricom. Market consolidation is tied to enterprises now preferring a common set of security, policy enforcement and management across both their wired and wireless networks as well as flexible deployment options in a private or public cloud environment, said Gartner.

A total of 16 vendors made Gartner's 2016 worldwide Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure including leaders Cisco and HPE-Aruba as well as newcomers Fortinet and Xirrus.

Wired And Wireless LAN Research Methodology

Gartner evaluated enterprise LAN vendors that supply wired and wireless networking hardware and software that provide device connectivity to the enterprise infrastructure access layer such as wireless access points (APs), wired switches, network management, policy enforcement, controllers and application visibility.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant ranks vendors on their ability to execute and completeness of vision and places them in four categories: Niche Players (low on vision and execution), Visionaries (good vision but low execution), Challengers (good execution but low vision) and Leaders (excelling in both vision and execution).

Leader: Cisco

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant continues to be the global market-share leader for access layer connectivity, owning the broadest wired and wireless portfolio. Cisco has two offerings – its on-premise offering that includes a deep wired switching portfolio through its Catalyst line of switches; and Cisco Meraki with its own separate switches, APs and cloud-based Systems Manager for policy and management.

Cisco continues to invest aggressively in its access layer space, releasing its Hyperlocation module, Mobility Express and APIC-EM over the past year. The company ranks as the leader in execution on the Magic Quadrant and is tied with HPE-Aruba for the No. 1 spot for vision.


Strengths: Gartner said Cisco has made advances in location granularity with its new Hyperlocation module that enables its Aironet APs to locate and track wireless clients. The company's CMX also provides Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi location services, an application toolkit and reporting capabilities that include analytics.

Weaknesses: Cisco has two access layer connectivity product lines that are developed by separate development teams with different features. In addition, inconsistent user interfaces and different capabilities remain for security, guest, network management and policy enforcement, according to Gartner.

Leader: HPE-Aruba

Following its $3 billion of Aruba Networks last year, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Palo Alto, Calif., is now the second-largest vendor in the wired and wireless LAN access layer market with almost 20 percent wireless revenue share and more than 10 percent revenue share for access layers worldwide.

HPE offers its FlexNetwork core switching and branch routing product portfolio along with Aruba's wired and wireless LAN product family. Aruba also provides a cloud offering through Aruba Central and end-to-end location services with remote beacon management tools via Aruba Meridian. HPE-Aruba is tied with Cisco as the leader for vision on the Magic Quadrant and is No. 2 for execution.


Strengths: Gartner said clients report ’a high degree of satisfaction’ with Aruba's ClearPass offerings, which provide guest access, device profiling, posture assessment and on-boarding. A wide variety of HPE switches come with hardware lifetime warranty and the company also offers free technical support for three years on most Aruba switches, HPE FlexNetwork and OfficeConnect.

Weaknesses: Aruba's AirWave and ClearPass offerings are supported on Aruba switches, but not at the same level of support and functionality available on legacy HPE switches. Aruba Central lacks the same functionality as its ClearPass and AirWave offerings.

Visionary: Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks offers a broad portfolio of enterprise wired and wireless products, with nearly 80 percent of its sales derived from its channel partners. The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor's ExtremeManagement, ExtremeControl and ExtremeAnalytics provide network management, guest access, policy enforcement and application analytics for Extreme components as well as other LAN vendors.

Extreme is ranked No. 3 for vision on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for execution.

Extreme Networks

Strengths: The company has a strong flow-based packet processing technology and application control embedded at every point in the network. ExtremeWireless APs provide management for on-premise or cloud using the same hardware, while offering investment protection for either mode of deployment.

Weaknesses: Based on deals that Gartner reviewed, Extreme's offerings have not been as aggressively priced compared with its competitors in the market.

Visionary: Brocade-Ruckus Wireless

Brocade Communications completed its acquisition of Ruckus Wireless in May, allowing Brocade to offer both access wired switching and WLAN components. The San Jose Calif.-based company offers a controller-based WLAN architecture that can be delivered on-premise or in the cloud and supplemented by a controllerless stand-alone offering: Unleashed.

Prior to the acquisition, Ruckus released a new version of SPoT -- its cloud-based Wi-Fi indoor location service -- while Brocade recently launched a new campus fabric offering. Brocade is ranked No. 4 for vision on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for execution.

Brocade-Ruckus Wireless

Strengths: Ruckus' APs and Brocade ICX switches both have the flexibility to be reused across multiple network architectures. Ruckus' APs can be used in controllerless, cloud, virtual and hardware-based controller implementations, while Brocade's ICX can be reused in stacking or fabric architectures.

Weaknesses: The company's Cloudpath has limited enforcement capabilities, according to Gartner. Enterprises should review the company's change in coverage and future product road maps as both Ruckus and Brocade have multiple strategic networking partnerships prior to the merger that could be affected, according to Gartner.

Visionary: Huawei

Over the past three years, Huawei has grown at above-average market rates, gained revenue share and expanded its presence in EMEA, according to Gartner. Huawei provides an end-to-end campus networking offering, Agile Network Solution, as well as a campus Agile Controller that integrates user policy management, guest access, location services and data analytics for up to 6,000 APs.

Huawei is ranked No. 3 for execution on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for vision.


Strengths: Many of the company's switches have integrated WLAN controller functionality and software-defined networking is central to Huawei's strategy. Huawei's eSight management and network application support both Huawei and competitive-vendor components, including Cisco and HPE, which can also be deployed in a multitenant cloud environment.

Weaknesses: Less than 40 percent of Huawei's revenue is generated from outside China, with less than 1 percent of its 2015 worldwide revenue coming from North America. Gartner said clients report a need for more local-language support and need for better user documentation.

Visionary: Aerohive

One of the smallest vendors on the Magic Quadrant, Aerohive Networks moved up to the No. 5 WLAN vendor last year when measured by revenue, according to Gartner. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company sells 100 percent through the channel with strategic partners including Dell and Juniper Networks.

Aerohive provides a controllerless architecture with the full suite of access applications through its HiveManager software including guest access, policy management, analytics, provisioning and network management. HiveManager can be deployed either as an on-premise application or as a cloud managed service. Aerohive ranks among the middle of the pack for both execution and vision on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: Gartner said Aerohive customers cited simplicity in deployment and ease of use for both cloud managed and on-premise deployments as key benefits compared to competitors. The company's HiveManager has a set of external APIs that allow partners and customers to extract their own contextual reporting and analytics.

Weaknesses: Aerohive has a limited wired switching portfolio and indoor location services availability. As one of the smaller players in the market, the company has limited visibility and penetration outside its core markets of education, retail and distributed enterprises, according to Gartner.

Visionary: Zebra

Zebra Technologies is a global leader for in-store retail, hospitality, manufacturing, transportation and logistics access layer solutions, according to Gartner. The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company continues to innovate around its WiNG wireless architecture, NSight analytics platform, Azara multitenant cloud platform and MPact location services platform. Zebra is ranked No. 5 for vision on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for execution.


Strengths: Zebra is one of the few vendors to provide application visibility and control at the edge of the network instead of in a separately located controller appliance, allowing the company to meet the growing needs of policy enforcement introduced by BYOD and the Internet of Things.

Weaknesses: Gartner said the company lacks the ability to manage its multiple location service offerings with a single application, with each offering having its own management application. Zebra's wired switching portfolio only represents 15 percent of its overall revenue and impedes its ability to deliver an end-to-end access layer solution.

Visionary: Fortinet

New to the Magic Quadrant this year is security specialist Fortinet, which provides a unified-access network capability leveraging its legacy wired switching solutions along with WLAN technology acquired from Meru Networks last year. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's Secure Access Architecture integrates Fortinet's core firewall and other security capabilities into a unified-access network at a time when corporate security breaches and data theft have raised awareness of network-oriented threats, said Gartner.

The vendor's WLAN architecture -- targeting higher education, health care and distributed enterprise customers -- integrates a WLAN controller into the FortiGate firewall appliance. Fortinet ranks among the middle of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: Fortinet doesn't charge a licensing fee for its infrastructure wireless access points in contrast to its largest competitors -- Cisco's Meraki, HPE-Aruba and Brocade-Ruckus. Its FortiPresence location service uses Wi-Fi signaling from a customer's smartphone to track the device, simplifying the collection of location data for analytics, said Gartner.

Weaknesses: Fortinet's unified network offering provides management of Fortinet-only switches, access points and security appliances -- narrowing its appeal to enterprises with multivendor infrastructure deployments, according to Gartner. The company's marketing focus on security could lack broad appeal to organizations that don't already implement Fortinet security offerings.

Visionary: Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise provides a unified wired and wireless network portfolio with end-to-end access and control capabilities. The company focuses on the abilities of its Intelligent Fabric technology to reduce IT overhead costs with automation and centralized wired and wireless LAN deployment, management, policy and maintenance.

Under the majority ownership of China Huaxin, ALE will launch its own line of entry-level APs as a lower-cost alternative to its Aruba-based APs in the SMB and emerging markets. ALE ranks among the middle of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: ALE recently unveiled a new consumption-based offer targeting midsize-enterprise deployments: Campus Network on Demand. The outsourced managed-access networking solution enables organizations to bill customers based on actual usage of wireless APs or wired ports – providing a differentiation in the market, said Gartner.

Weaknesses: The company relies heavily on EMEA customers, owning 52 percent of the region's share of total revenue in the space. ALE also remains heavily reliant on its long-term partnership agreement with Aruba Networks, now owned by HPE, for innovation in its WLAN hardware and software capabilities, according to the research firm.

Visionary: Xirrus

Another newcomer to the Magic Quadrant this year is Xirrus, which provides access solutions focused on wireless along with some switches. The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based company sells exclusively through channel partners and offers a broad range of APs and network applications, which can be deployed with cloud-based or on-premise management options.

Approximately 70 percent of its revenue comes from North America. Xirrus ranks among the middle of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: Xirrus offers a broad range of APs, including unique outdoor and high-density options with multiple radios in a single AP, as well as network access applications that can be used to build effective wireless solutions, said Gartner. Its EasyPass solution also provides guest access and Wi-Fi device on-boarding options both for on-premise and cloud-managed.

Weaknesses: Due to its strong focus on wireless access, Xirrus does not have a complete campus switch portfolio. The company also doesn't provide a policy-based unified-access solution that covers both wired and wireless, according to Gartner.

Niche Player: Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks provides access networking through its EX Series of wired switches, although it largely relies on partnerships for wireless through its Open Convergence Framework strategy. In 2015, Juniper was the No. 4 wired switching vendor in terms of revenue. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based vendor offers a deep and ’well thought out’ campus switching architecture, said Gartner.

The company recently enhanced the security framework of the EX series by tighter integration with its SRX firewalls, as well as third-party network access control solutions -- including Aruba's ClearPass. Juniper is ranked No. 4 for execution on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for vision.

Juniper Networks

Strengths: Gartner said Juniper has a ’superior reputation for high-quality products and technical support’ among customers in its core verticals of financial services and the technology sector. The company also aggressively prices its campus switches while building more open-standards-based solutions.

Weaknesses: Juniper's dependence on wireless partners through its Open Convergence Framework is the opposite direction the market is heading as vendors bring WLAN assets in-house, according to Gartner. The company lacks an indoor location and IoT containment and separation strategy.

Niche Player: Avaya

Avaya offers a wired and wireless LAN access layer portfolio featuring Unified Access -- its offering for management, policy enforcement, guest management and security across single or multivendor wired and wireless networks. Avaya relies on strategic partnerships for wireless hardware, which can be managed as a unified network with its own switching products.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company targets the education and health-care markets, for which Avaya has created specific offerings. Avaya ranks among the middle of the pack for vision on the Magic Quadrant and near the bottom for execution.


Strengths: Gartner said Unified Access supports granular segmentation of users, applications and services -- including in IoT devices that need secure access to applications in the data center. The company has also expanded its managed service portfolio to include professional services installation, deployment and management of the access layer network.

Weaknesses: Avaya has a limited indoor location services offering, which is needed to expand in its target markets, said Gartner. The vendor is also trailing its competitors in offering a cloud-managed WLAN solution.

Niche Player: Dell

Dell provides an integrated access layer solution, One Network, with simplified management tailored to an organization's size and complexity.

For small businesses, Dell offers a unified wired, wireless and secure network through an integration with Dell SonicWall TZ series firewall and SonicPoints. In the midmarket, Dell offers a branded wired and wireless solution based on its N-Series fixed-port, stackable Ethernet switches and Aerohive APs -- both configurable and manageable using an integrated version of Aerohive's HiveManager NG platform. For large campus deployments, Dell is featuring Aerohive as the WLAN component of an architecture using its C-Series and N-Series switches.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell ranks among the middle of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: Dell's ability to integrate HiveManager underscores the vendor's progress and capabilities in serving SMBs and midsize enterprises for cost-competitive unified access networks.

Weaknesses: Dell offers a version of HiveManager for network applications, although it does not support Dell's W-Series or SonicPoint portfolio. Gartner said this may limit the appeal of its unified networking solutions to customers who need to support legacy equipment from other vendors.

Niche Player: D-Link

D-Link provides wired and wireless offerings for the unified access layer, as well as other network and security devices -- deriving more than 60 percent of its revenue from Asia-Pacific and emerging markets. The Taiwan-based company offers a broad hardware portfolio, with fixed configuration and stackable switches, and wireless APs that operate in stand-alone mode or with Wi-Fi controllers.

D-Link provides its Central WiFiManager software at no cost to the overall solution. The company is ranked No. 5 for execution on the Magic Quadrant and near the bottom for vision.


Strengths: D-Link is a low-price leader for both wired switch and wireless network hardware, with Gartner seeing list prices for some of its unified access hardware that are lower than the discounted prices from other vendors for equipment with equivalent functionality.

Weaknesses: The company's Central WiFiManager software supports only the vendor's APs and switching components and cannot be deployed in a cloud-based model. D-Link's features for managing guest access and on-boarding devices are limited compared to leading vendors, the research firm said.

Niche Player: Allied Telesis

Allied Telesis has a wired switching and wireless LAN portfolio for access layer connectivity. The Tokyo-based company has three wireless architectures: its traditional wireless portfolio consisting of Unified Wireless Controller and TQ access points; AlliedView Cloud with APs; and the Extricom solution with separate APs, controller and switch solutions that integrate its Channel Blanket technology.

The AlliedView Network Management System manages the switching and traditional WLAN product portfolio on-premises, while the AlliedView Cloud offering supports deployments without an on-premise controller appliance. Allied ranks among the bottom of the pack for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.

Allied Telesis

Strengths: The company's Management Framework can be deployed on-premise or as a private or public cloud and is open to third-party vendors to provide further infrastructure management and provisioning.

Weaknesses: Allied increased its wireless portfolio with the acquisition of Extricom in 2015, but the two product lines have yet to be integrated. Although Allied supports three guest access solutions, each has limited policy enforcement capabilities, according to Gartner.

Niche Player: ZTE

China-based ZTE is new to the Magic Quadrant this year, owning a broad portfolio of networking and telecommunications products with 60 percent of revenue coming from Asia-Pacific. ZTE offers a full range of Ethernet switches, WLAN access points and controllers.

ZTE ranked in last place for both vision and execution on the Magic Quadrant.


Strengths: The company offers a cost-effective range of campus switches and wireless products that can fulfill basic access layer connectivity requirements. ZTE's switches support WLAN APs and IoT devices such as conference room display, thermostats or LED lighting that may need higher power consumption.

Weaknesses: Gartner said ZTE lacks support for basic network applications -- such as guest access, on-boarding and policy management -- which means customers need to rely on third-party apps to provide this functionality. In addition, ZTE doesn't have an indoor location service solution, multivendor network management or virtual segmentation functionality for IoT.