HP bolsters wireless LAN stature with Colubris buy

HP ProCurve division looks to shore up transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing applications with Colubris technology

HP ProCurve's acquisition of Colubris is a strategic move by the company to increase its visibility in the WLAN market and extend its penetration into key vertical markets.

HP ProCurve's acquisition of Colubris Networks is a strategic move by the company to increase its visibility in the wireless LAN (compare enterprise WLAN products) market and extend its penetration into key vertical markets.

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HP ProCurve this week said it would acquire WLAN vendors Colubris in an effort to broaden its own WLAN offerings with IEEE 802.11n products and a presence in such markets as education, hospitality, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing and service providers. The deal will help HP ProCurve address market requirements faster with WLAN products that complement its own, supplied primarily through an OEM arrangement with Motorola.

"As we go through our strategic planning and customer requests, are we providing things at a fast enough pace?" asked HP ProCurve Senior Vice President and General Manager Marius Haas in explaining the Colubris acquisition. "Acquire vis-à-vis develop will bring (products) to market faster."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Product and operational integration issues are still being worked out, Haas says, but HP ProCurve plans to keep Colubris facilities in Massachusetts and Canada up and running.

HP ProCurve WLAN operations are out of Roseville, Calif. "It will be interesting to see how much they consolidate into Roseville," says IDC Analyst Abner Germanow.

Haas did not address the Motorola relationship, but Germanow expects the OEM arrangement to wind down gradually. "ProCurve needed a stronger WLAN story than what they've had in the past," he says. "The Motorola OEM [arrangement] was decent for them, but they are not leaders in the WLAN market."

WLAN is a growing presence in such key HP ProCurve verticals as education and hospitality, Germanow notes, which prompted the company to forge ahead with this deal.

"Colubris does very well in hospitality and guest-networking hot spots," Germanow says. "This gives ProCurve better account control."

The enterprise WLAN industry is going through consolidation as Cisco solidifies its dominance on the market with more than 62% market share, according to Dell'Oro Group. Belden recently acquired Trapeze Networks to add WLAN options to its copper and fiber-optic connectivity portfolio.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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