Consolidation Is In The Air

Consolidation Is In The Air

By CWNP On 08/11/2008 - 10 Comments

We've just seen Belden buy Trapeze, Motorola buy AirDefense, and now HP buys Colubris.  All this happened in what...2 months?  Wow.  If this isn't the end-all of WLAN industry consolidation, I'm not sure what is.  We all know Cisco never sits idly by while this kind of thing happens (remember Juniper buying Funk software and Cisco following suit by buying Meetinghouse?), so I'm anxious to see who they scarf up next.

I'm also anxious to see if any of the other big players in the industry start getting a little worried about their long-term position.  Consider the following (just my humble rambling, because I'm not privy to anything secret)...

 

1)  Meru is OEM'd by Foundry Networks.  Foundry is a major player with seriously good routing/switching gear.  Meru makes leading edge WLAN gear, and Foundry is their only OEMer.  With Colubris and Trapeze now gone, that only leaves a small few to choose from, and Foundry can't even *think* about not having a leading-edge WLAN product line with Cisco being their #1 competitor.  Bobby just needs to bite the bullet and put in a bid on Meru. :)  (He'll probably yell at me for posting this)

2) Bluesocket - They're small, they're mature, they're very secretive.  Who the heck knows what's going on over there.  They could get bought and nobody know about it. :(  Hey Bluesocket, what's happening over there?  Throw us a bone.  They bought Pingtel, and then they sold it to Nortel...what in the world?  Why didn't Nortel just buy Bluesocket altogether?  That would've been very smart (there's my humble opinion again).  They have very good products and technology.  Right now, Nortel is in bed with Trapeze...uh....Belden, who also OEMs to DLink and 3Com.  Incestuous, no?

3) Aerohive - These guys have some seriously smart people, a leading-edge architecture, and a totally new strategy on how to do things.  Their product is still maturing, but anyone with half a brain can see that they make a very good acquisition target for a big network infrastructure company that hasn't yet gotten into Wi-Fi.  Even Cisco/Airespace's mastermind (Bob O'Hara) has recently joined their BoA. http://www.aerohive.com/company/advisors.html  That says ALOT to me.

4) AirTight - A leader in the WIPS market with some innovative new offerings.  They're a relatively small company, and like so many others that have recently been purchased, that is likely to make them attractive to many of the infrastructure vendors.  Another big thing with AirTight is that they have been very good at integrating with infrastructure vendors - like Colubris.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to see an announcement within the coming months saying that HP just bought AirTight also.  It would be a smart move IMHO.

5) AirMagnet - The biggest name in WLAN analysis and surveying with the biggest product line top-to-bottom.  If they aren't on Cisco's radar, I would be shocked.  Everyone everywhere uses their analyzers (Site Survey Pro, Wi-Fi Analyzer Pro, etc) and WIPS, and they have a large and loyal following.  That's just what Cisco typically goes for (remember Aironet?  remember Airespace?  remember Cognio?  remember Meetinghouse?  Holy crap - Hey Cisco, my house is for sale!)

6) Extricom - Their gear is just now blossoming into what you could consider to be enterprise-ready, but is still a better fit for the SMB/SME market and certain verticals within the enterprise.   They lost Belden, their biggest OEM, so they are likely to be open to being bought or to partnering with a major industry player.

7) Xirrus - Smart people, good marketing, very good and unique product - so unique in fact that I think that may be what holds them back in some cases.  The WLAN Array is a great fit for some situations, but it just doesn't fit everywhere.   Their marketing is so good that they can win a deal right alongside their competitor (see http://www.xirrus.com/customerdeployments/cs_carnegie_mellon.php ).  They've been very successful, but I'm just not sure what will happen with these guys regarding an acquisition...your guess is as good as mine.

8) Ruckus Wireless - Holy cow batman. Their antenna technology is smokin!  They NEED 5 GHz radios, and I'm sure they'll have them soon enough.  Their throughput at range is superior, and their ease of deployment and GUI is obscenely perfect.  If you're an SMB/SME and you don't look at this vendor, you're nuts.  If DLink's M&A department understood the quality of these products, there would be a bid on the table the next day. :)  Though DLink OEMs Trapeze, they're not very deeply rooted. They could buy Ruckus with their pocket change, and doing so would put them squarely in front of the SMB/SME wireless market.  Ruckus has recently introduced an enterprise-class controller, but I haven't yet seen it.  Their ZD1000 is a smokin-good SMB controller, but I don't know anything about their new ZD3000.  If it is as-advertised, they should market it to SME - NOT to enterprise.  Per their own marketing literature, their sweetspot is the 80% of the market that is SMB/SME.  Staying in this area is where they will continue to be very successful and draw the most attention from a potential buyer.

9)  Intel - www.ciscointelalliance.com - Totally partnered.  'nuff said.

10) Proxim - They have pursued other wireless interests such as WiMAX and proprietary wireless bridging.  Apparently they haven't spent much money advertising their Wi-Fi products because they have all but vanished from the Wi-Fi scene.  They didn't even make it onto the Gartner magic quadrant last year at all.  Maybe a big player will scoop up their Wi-Fi offering.  They have a controller, multiple APs, mesh functionality, and a management system, so they're not exactly behind the times.  Whether or not they'd be willing to sell their Wi-Fi offerings apart from their other offerings is anyone's guess of course.

...and now for something non-acquisition-related...

11) Extreme Networks - Excellent routing/switching gear, and they build their own Wi-Fi gear (a fairly comprehensive offering in fact).  In 9 years in this field, I've never seen any of it deployed.  Anyone else ever seen it?  Is it as good as their routing/switching gear?

Disclaimer:  These are just my ramblings, and I have no insider or secret knowledge of what's going to happen with any of these companies.  I was just as surprised by the Belden/Trapeze and HP/Colubris buyouts as anyone else, but I did predict (to friends and co-workers) that Motorola would buy AirDefense. :)  Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day, right?  

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