Aruba Networks to Acquire Airwave Wireless

Aruba Networks, a provider of user-centric networks and secure mobility solutions, today announced the execution of a definitive agreement to purchase AirWave Wireless.

AirWave, a San Mateo, California-based company, is a provider of specialised tools to centrally manage large, multi-vendor wireless LAN, mesh, and WiMax networks. AirWave’s management software is used by hundreds of IT organisations, including many Fortune 500 companies spanning education, finance, government, healthcare, hospitality, technology, manufacturing, and retail markets.

The acquisition will provide Aruba with best-in-class multi-vendor mobility management tools, as well as a vehicle for better supporting its expanding technology partner eco-system. AirWave will operate as a business unit of Aruba, chartered to enhance the AirWave Wireless Management Suite software and maintain its position as one of the industry’s leading multi-vendor management solutions.

Under the terms of the agreement, Aruba will acquire AirWave in exchange for total consideration of $37 million in stock and cash. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of Aruba’s 2008 fiscal year and is subject to standard closing conditions.

“Customers have a vision of how they want to architect and deploy their networks, and those networks often include multiple vendors,” said Dominic Orr, Aruba’s president and CEO. “We believe it is important to respect customers’ choices in these matters, and this acquisition positions us as the first mobility vendor to move beyond simple interoperability and offer cross-vendor network management, too. Whether a customer wants to preserve some existing assets, or stage a phased roll-out of new technologies like 802.11n, the management of multi-vendor legacy and new devices is imperative. Analysts and customers alike agree that AirWave has the best solution on the market for these tasks, something we know well from years of working closely with the company. We are fully committed to continuing support for all of AirWave’s products, and we intend to expand the roster of supported third-party products based on market share and customer demand.”

Legacy and new networking equipment often need to run side-by-side, in some cases for several years, because of multi-year capital equipment purchasing cycles and the introduction of new networking technology like 802.11n. The AirWave platform eases technology transitions by extending the life of existing capital investments and enabling multi-vendor solutions to be run from a common, centralised network management system. Most wireless vendors offer only proprietary management solutions geared towards their own products. AirWave’s platform manages networks and products from Cisco, Aruba, HP ProCurve, Motorola/Symbol, Avaya, Foundry, Proxim, 3Com, Trapeze, and Tropos, among others, and additional coverage will be added under Aruba’s ownership.

“We believe that the best way for us to serve AirWave’s customers is by accelerating the pace of product development and innovation,” said Greg Murphy, AirWave’s chief operating officer. “This acquisition gives us a chance to do so as part of a larger company that is committed to open, interoperable solutions. Aruba has a tradition of working on a variety of legacy networks, and interoperating with numerous security solutions. Aruba also promotes the interests of the broader user community through initiatives such as Open SEA and the Wireless Vulnerabilities & Exploits security alert program. With this acquisition Aruba gains a vendor-neutral platform that provides a safe haven for users seeking intelligent management and upgrade capabilities without expensive forklift replacements. My colleagues and I are thrilled to be part of Aruba’s team.”

“Network management is an essential component of every WLAN solution, but is usually the piece that receives the least attention,” said Michael Brandenburg, Enterprise Network Systems Analyst for Current Analysis. “We consider Aruba’s acquisition of Airwave to be a strategic move that sets it apart in its ability to centralise management of the all too common multi-vendor WLAN deployment.”

“This acquisition adds depth to Aruba’s feature set, as well as bringing with it a range of stand-alone software products that can be sold to a completely new base of prospects,” added Paul DeBeasi, Senior Analyst at Burton Group. “Network management is the glue that interlinks the components of a system, and Aruba has acquired a leading player in the market. In so doing it has established an industry-unique multi-vendor capability.”

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