By Surjyadeb Goswami, Research Manager, IDC CCR
Singapore and Hong Kong, March 10, 2015 – In March 2015, HP announced it would acquire Aruba Networks, a leading wireless networking and mobility solutions company. The equity value of the transaction is approximately US$3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately US$2.7 billion.
This is the largest acquisition that HP has made since it acquired Autonomy for nearly US$12 billion in 2011. Aruba Networks is expected to be a part of the new HP Enterprise Company by October this year.
It is an interesting transaction that the enterprise networking world has seen in recent times and brings several opportunities for both HP and Aruba:
- This acquisition will help HP close the widening gap between it and Cisco from a next generation network access solution point of view for tomorrow’s mobile enterprises.
- Aruba in recent years made significant acquisition and investments to focus on location-awareness and contextual identity solutions over wireless network with Meridian, Clearpass and cloud WLAN solutions; this will now boost HP’s wireless networking offering to enterprises with a better story around unified networking.
- The acquisition will also give Aruba the access to HP’s partner community along with a boost to their future R&D to develop cutting edge mobility solutions.
Some challenges this acquisition has presented are:
- One key challenge of this acquisition is around how Aruba is going to manage their ongoing OEM and joint partnerships with vendors like Alcatel-Lucent, Dell, Juniper and Brocade. All these vendors have competing solutions with HP and Dell is the one which has a broader scale of end-to-end enterprise infrastructure competition. A bigger question remains here on how HP is going to manage the expectations of these partnering vendors and associated customers. However, if the Aruba unit is kept as a separate entity under the HP Enterprise Company umbrella for the next few years, it could help to sort out this issue.
- HP had previously acquired Colubris and H3C to strengthen their networking portfolio, however they failed to position HP as market leader in networking. Also, acquiring a WLAN vendor creates a disruption in their existing wired networking portfolio; one key example is the story of Juniper – Trapeze.
- Aruba brings onto the table innovative and disruptive mobility solutions, however they have struggled with their mobility access switching portfolio. As it holds true for all acquisitions – with HP’s ongoing R&D commitments, the Aruba offerings which requires for more R&D investments, need to be well justified and mapped into HP’s solutions. That could be confusing for Aruba’s customers.
- In many cases, Aruba partners are already carrying competing wired networking products; positioning HP in parallel may become a challenge for those partners and create a conflict. This has in some cases helped competing vendors to win some of those partners support.
IDC believes that the acquisition of Aruba in HP’s networking business, if managed properly, could be a key strategic move for HP.
The acquisition has the potential to make their positioning stronger for unified access solution requirement for ‘next-gen’ enterprises, giving customers a compelling solution against any other leading networking vendors.
This may be an uphill task as the market is more competitive and HP needs to move faster to get their integrated story going.
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