HP buys Aruba and next thing you know Dell is reselling Aerohive WiFi gear

Though Aruba-Dell reconfirmed their commitment to one another in March following HP's Aruba buyout

aerohive family

Aerohive Networks announced Monday that Dell will begin reselling its wireless LAN and related management products -- not a shocker in light of longtime Dell OEM partner Aruba Networks being snapped up by HP in a multi-billion deal last month.

Aerohive says Dell is a good fit in that the 802.11ac access points and HiveManager NG cloud-based management platform help to fill out Dell's line-up of products spanning from the data center to endpoints. 

"We believe there is a large demand from customers that like doing business with 'pure play' access layer solution providers vs. large networking companies like Cisco and HP," says Bill Hoppin, Aerohive VP of Business Development.

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While HP's $2.7 billion buyout of Aruba was generally well received by market watchers, questions were immediately raised about what would become of Aruba's OEM partners who might not want to resell what would become HP gear. That would include HP server and switch rival Dell, which has had an OEM deal in place with Aruba since 2010 and had partnered with Aruba for years before that to sell products.

"Once HP’s acquisition of Aruba was announced, we did recognize that a realignment of Aruba’s long list of partnerships had to be on the cards, and today’s announcement from Dell is the culmination of that market transition," says Rohit Mehra, VP of Network Infrastructure at market intelligence firm IDC. "We do see this announcement as one of the steps in a broader realignment, with more to come later this year and next." Mehra added that the Dell/Aruba deal has never borne as much fruit as the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise/Aruba deal.

(A PR firm for Dell was seeking a response to our questions about the fate of Dell's Aruba relationship when this story posted; Aerohive declined to comment on other Dell partner arrangements.)

However, Aruba reached out to Network World on Monday night to point us to a joint letter from March signed by Dell VP Tom Burns and Aruba CEO Dominic Orr that states the companies "have recommitted to their long-standing partnership in providing world-class wireless solutions for Dell customers" in the wake of HP announcing its acquisition of Aruba.  "We want to let you know that our partnership remains strong." (Burns is also quoted in the Dell-Aerohive press release.)

But as an Aerohive product marketing executive blogged last month following the HP-Aruba deal "Past acquisitions like this have introduced us to some of our best channel partners :-)." Aerohive also launched a "Get Me Off This Island" discount program shortly after the HP-Aruba union was announced to lure Aruba customers to use its products.

Industry watchers have said that the Aruba acquisition might trigger further consolidation in the WLAN market, whether via acquisitions or partnerships, such as the Dell-Aerohive one. In fact, speculation has swirled about Aerohive being a possible acquisition target for Dell.

Aerohive, which went public last year and registered $137M in 2014 revenue, trails Cisco, Aruba, Ruckus, HP and Ubiquiti in worldwide enterprise WLAN revenue market share, according to IDC (which says Aerohive's market share has been flat in recent years though its revenue has grown in line with the overall market). Infonetics ranks Aerohive #7 in worldwide enterprise/SMB revenue market share for calendar year 2014 (2.3%) and #6 for North American share.

Gartner has Aerohive in the "Visionaries" segment of its 2014 Magic Quadrant on wired and wireless LAN access infrastructure.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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