Impact of HP acquisition of Aruba Networks on Aruba partners

With an acquisition of Aruba Networks by HP set to close later this year, how will Aruba partners be impacted?

Monday's announcement that Hewlett-Packard Co. will buy Aruba Networks Inc. has no doubt caused much buzz among channel partners. In the Twittersphere there's a lot of wait-and-see sentiment about what it means to partners. Even for the few hundred Aruba PartnerEdge partners attending the vendor's Partner Summit in Las Vegas this week, held in conjunction with Aruba's Atmosphere 2015 event, there are only so many questions the vendor will be able to answer.

The truth of the matter is that until the ink dries on the paper, HP's acquisition of Aruba Networks -- which is anticipated to be finalized sometime between May and October, in the second half of HP's 2015 fiscal year -- it won't be clear how HP will meld the two vendors' channels and what the go-to-market strategy will ultimately look like.

Until the transaction closes, Aruba partners can expect business as usual. They may also be reassured that when the HP-Aruba deal is done, a new combined HP and Aruba networking organization that leverages the Aruba Networking brand will be headed by Aruba CEO Dominic Orr and Chief Strategy and Technology Office Keerti Melkote. Both will report to Antonio Neri, head of HP's Enterprise Group.

"It should be very reassuring to our partners that Orr and Melkote are leading the charge," said Greg Murphy, vice president of business operations at Aruba. "It would a very different story if I couldn't say that," he added.

Aruba and HP both have very strong channel support teams and that helps volumes while we transition.

Jennifer Minella, vice president of engineering, Carolina Advanced Digital

According to Murphy, about 90% of Aruba's revenue is driven by its channel partners. The vendor has several hundred partners in its PartnerEdge program and hundreds of authorized partners who work through distribution. The highly trained and skilled Aruba partners in the tiered PartnerEdge program address the global 2000 enterprise market, while authorized partners work with small and medium-size organizations, Murphy noted.

Jennifer Minella, vice president of engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital Inc., a Cary, N.C.-based Aruba and HP Networking partner, said that HP's acquisition of Aruba didn't come as a surprise.

"[HP has] been trying to find its place in the wireless market and will benefit greatly from Aruba's strong position as a company and strong product portfolio," she said, adding that it's a match she applauds based on an overlapping portfolio and a lot of parity between the environments where the two companies' products are deployed.

"From a reseller and integrator perspective, this acquisition opens new doors and lets us offer clients a comprehensive portfolio and the benefit of better pricing in project bundles, and the support of HP's extensive resources," Minella said.

Murphy agreed. In addition to placement of the Aruba leadership team in the new combined organization and Aruba’s technical innovation and "customer first, customer last" culture, he expects that partners will appreciate the broader portfolio of the combined company as well as additional perks of being part of a large technology company such as HP.

"We think that partners will be able to leverage HP's relationships to get access to higher-level accounts that will help partners build their business," he said.

The Aruba acquisition coincides with HP's split into two companies -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. -- expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2015, according to HP. Even without the Aruba acquisition, partners are probably anticipating a bit of bumpy ride ahead.

"For us, Aruba and HP both have very strong channel support teams and that helps volumes while we transition. Our company already has all the training and certifications and sales portfolios, so it's a no-brainer for us," Minella said.

HP expects that the Aruba acquisition will help position the company to become a leader in enterprise mobility.

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