Report: HP to buy Aruba for wireless tech

meg whitman hp REUTERS/Stephen Lam

HP's Meg Whitman

HP is in talks to purchase Aruba Networks, with an eye toward acquiring that company’s wireless networking infrastructure technology, according to a report published today by Bloomberg News.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg said the deal could be announced as early as next week, though neither HP nor Aruba would comment on the record. The news agency said that analysts’ estimates suggested that Aruba’s sales are growing fast – with the company poised to break the $1 billion-a-year barrier by 2017.

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CEO Meg Whitman said earlier this week that the company is in a position to make acquisitions, despite a generally negative quarterly earnings report. That led to HP stock taking a downturn, while shares of Aruba have spiked since the Bloomberg report was published – up 21% as of this writing. HP’s own enterprise networking division, by contrast, saw an 11% revenue drop in the latest figures.

It seems likely, at this point, that Aruba would become part of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise after HP splits in two later this year, as planned. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will handle the company’s enterprise services, hardware and software lines, while HP, Inc., will keep the company’s large PC and printer businesses.

A buyout might not be welcome news to networking professionals. Lee Badman, an educational network administrator, said that Aruba is “a class act,” and that HP ownership wouldn’t do the company any favors.

“I think the HP name kinda tarnishes the Aruba brand a bit,” he said via email. “Aruba has been an industry leader and top-tier WLAN name, associated with innovation, quality, and good stewardship of all of their product lines.”

By contrast, he said, HP has been lackluster in the same market area.

“HP keeps trying to re-invent itself and hasn’t been impressive in the WLAN space,” Badman said.

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