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HP ProCurve's WLAN strategy hits the ground running

HP's Colubris acquisition is complete; now ProCurve's WLAN strategy has launched and the channels are integrating and prepping to sell.

Less than two months after Hewlett-Packard Co.'s acquisition of Colubris Networks, HP ProCurve said it has fully integrated the two companies' channels and product lines and is launching a new wireless network access point.

Combining the two portfolios means that the channel can offer either fully integrated technology or overlay wireless solutions. Overlay solutions open up a new world of customers to ProCurve partners, enabling them to lay ProCurve WLAN technology on top of existing infrastructure from several manufacturers.

"Previously you could add WLAN to any ProCurve wired Ethernet switch … that's a great solution for the ProCurve installed base. What if a customer had Cisco or Enterasys, and they wanted to add a wireless LAN? ProCurve would be locked out of that opportunity," said Carl Blume, ProCurve's mobility solutions director, on Monday.

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In addition to the product integration, ProCurve released the new access point -- the HP ProCurve MSM410 -- a single-radio 802.11n indoor component that targets hotels, hospitals, dorms and office environments. The release shows why HP ProCurve acquired Colubris: The WLAN company brought with it much faster 802.11n technology, as well as inroads into vertical markets like hospitality and healthcare.

In order to manage the technology integration, HP ProCurve also released an updated version of ProCurve Manager that adds the ability to automatically discover, map and manage all Colubris products, giving users a single view of their wired and wireless networks.

The Colubris channel has been invited into the ProCurve fold. Blume said that all Colubris salespeople have been hired by ProCurve and that they are actively working to make sure all partners make the transition as well. So far, Colubris partners see potential benefit.

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"We are going to expand our ability to offer solutions beyond what Colubris has offered historically, with more of the product mix from the ProCurve side of the house," said Tim Beech, technical marketing manager at Howard Technology Solutions, a former Colubris and current ProCurve partner in Laurel, Miss. Howard Technology previously offered wired networking equipment only on a limited basis.

Beech added that the ProCurve name will give former Colubris partners a leg up on competitors.

"HP is a recognized name. I think it will lead to more brand recognition," Beech said.

In the past there was concern that the much larger ProCurve partner population would squash the smaller Colubris channel as both started selling the same product. But so far Beech hasn't seen a problem.

"We're just getting started, but so far we haven't seen any conflicts," Beech said.

Blume said the company doesn't expect partner overlap because the two organizations had different sales approaches.

"Colubris took a verticalized approach to the WLAN market. HP works in a horizontal fashion," Blume said. "[Partners] will continue to attack accounts from their respective go-to-market strategies."

The benefit for ProCurve partners is the ability to hit the market with a complete wired and wireless (including 802.11n) portfolio, which its rival Cisco Systems has had since it acquired WLAN company Airespace in 2005.

The MSM410 access point will sell for $649 and the entire product line will be available through channels in January 2009.

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