Wireless LAN stalwart Aruba was acquired by HP last March for US $3 billion, so Network World Editor in Chief John Dix visited Aruba co-founder Keerti Melkote to see how the integration is going and for his keen insights on the evolution of Wi-Fi. Melkote has seen it all, growing Aruba from a startup in 2002 to the largest independent Wi-Fi company with 1,800 employees.
After Aruba was pulled into HP he was named CTO of the combined network business, which employs roughly 5,000. In this far ranging interview Melkote talks about product integration and rationalization, the promise of location services and IoT, the competition, the arrival of gigabit Wi-Fi and what comes next.
Keerti Melkote, CTO, Aruba Networks, an HP company Why sell to HP?
Aruba was doing really well as a company. We gained market share through every technology transition -- from 802.11a to “b” to “g” and "n" and now “ac” -- and today we’re sitting at roughly 15% global share and have a lot more than that in segments like higher education and the federal market. But we were at a point where we could win far more if we had an audience at the CIO level, and increasingly we were getting exposed to global projects that required us to have a large partner in tow to give us the people onsite to execute on a worldwide basis.
So we began looking for what internally we called a big brother to help us scale to that next level. We talked to the usual suspects in terms of professional services, consulting companies, etc., but then HP approached us and said they were interested in partnering with us to go after the campus market, which is changing from wired to wireless. HP has a good history on the wired side, so we felt this was an opportune moment to bring the sides together, but go to market with a mobile-first story. After all, as customers re-architect their infrastructure they’re not going with four cable drops to every desk, they’re looking at where the traffic is, which is all on the wireless networks these days. HP agreed with that and basically said, “Why don’t you guys come in and not only grow Aruba, but take all of networking within HP and make it a part of the whole ecosystem.” So HP Networking and Aruba have come together in one organization and Dominic Orr [formerly CEO of Aruba] is the leader for that and I am Chief Technology Officer. We are focusing on integrating the Aruba products with the HP network products to create a " mobile-first campus " architecture.
Does the Aruba name go away and does everyone move to an HP campus?
No, and there is some exciting news there. The go-forward branding for networking products in the campus is going to be Aruba, including the wire line products. Over time you will start to see a shift in this mobile-first architecture with Aruba switching also coming to market.