If your mobility plan is centered around halting or even limiting the influx of personal devices on your network, think again. Bring-your-own-device programs are imminent. What’s more, if you believe that the WLAN is a secondary network, built basically to provide Internet access in common spaces, it’s time to rethink your wireless strategy.
The same Canalys report points out that pad shipments will grow to over 113 million in 2015 from 45 million units in 2011, and smart phone shipments will increase to 864 million from 455 million units in the same period. Once these wireless-only devices flood the enterprise, the WLAN will either handle them – or completely melt down.
Building a mobility program goes further than finding the right mobile device management tool. It is just as important to build a secured WLAN with the capacity to handle bandwidth-hungry applications such as video and VoIP. As Jared Griffith, CTO of systems integrator Cinergy explains: “It’s about protecting mission-critical applications. That comes down to good old-fashioned wireless LAN engineering. When I build this network, I have to build it based on the applications that are going to be on the network, not for coverage. If you build a network for coverage and then I add 50 devices to it, it slows the network down, if not crashing it completely.”
What’s your plan?]]>
This is driving a lot of revenue growth, but some vendors are reaping the benefits more than others. I asked dell’Oro analyst Loren Shalinsky for detials.
Cisco remains number one in the market by a huge margin, Shalinsky said. But Cisco did not have a good quarter. Its wireless LAN market share shrank by about four points he said, and revenue was down for the quarter (Shalinsky didn’t say by how much).
Motorola had an awesome quarter, growing by 40% sequentially from the third quarter, he said. The growth spurt nearly helped it overtake Aruba Networks as the number two vendor for enterprise wireless LAN. Aruba’s revenue grew by 7% in the same period. Shalinsky said total product revenue for the fourth quarter was $42 million for Aruba and $40.5 million for Motorola. Of course, Aruba would point out that it is also selling quite a few products through it’s OEM relationship with Alcatel-Lucent, which saw its revenue grow by 30%. Alcatel actually overtook Meru Networks in market share and claimed the number five position. (HP ProCurve is holding steady at number 4).]]>
Today Dell’Oro sent a letter to Aruba, which I peeked at today. In it, Tam Dell’Oro wrote that her firm will “add a section to our Enterprise WLAN Vendor Tables with our 2Q09 report which reflects the data by manufacturer. That is, those shipments that are produced by Aruba, regardless of which distribution channel it flows through, will be reflected as Aruba.”
Based on that, Aruba’s market share in 802.11n access points appears to be significantly higher than Meru. Aruba moved 15,000 802.11n APs in the first quarter of this year (both Aruba and Alcatel-Lucent branded products) versus Meru’s 10,000.
It’s not clear to me at this time wheter Dell’Oro will start reporting OEM sales data in this way for other markets beyond wireless LAN.]]>
This week both Meru Networks and Aruba Networks have issued press releases claiming that they hold the second biggest share of the 802.11n wireless LAN market. Not only that – both vendors are citing the same research: Dell’Oro Group’s “First Quarter 2009 Wireless LAN Report.”
Yesterday, Meru announced that it had earned 12% of total vendor revenues for 802.11n products, ahead of Aruba (the long-standing second-place WLAN vendor).
Today Aruba sent out its own press release refuting Meru’s claim. Aruba claims a 15.5% market share. In his email, Aruba Head of Strategic Marketing Michael R. Tennefoss wrote: “Yesterday Meru issued a press release claiming that it had displaced Aruba from the #2 position, a statement not born out by the facts as Meru neglected to include Aruba’s substantial OEM sales.”
I’ve left a message with Dell’Oro’s president, Tam Dell’Oro for some clarification on this. I’ll update later with her response.]]>
Several WLAN vendors, such as Meru Networks and Aruba Networks, have developed technologies to solve this problem. For instance, Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management software can shift WLAN clients to different radio frequencies and can analyze the 802.11x protocol used by the client. If the client is a faster 802.11n device, the software gives it priority
Aerohive Networks, a start-up known for its controllerless WLAN architecture, has found a new way to tackle this problem. In the latest version of its operating system, HiveOS 3.2, Aerohive has introduced a new feature called Dynamic Airtime Scheduling. Rather than making airtime decisions based on protocol, Aerohive actually examines the airtime of the client’s packets to determine how fast it is. This is relevant because the farther a client is from an access point, the slower its transmission. So an 802.11n client which is much farther away from an access point than 802.11g client is could actually be slower. The Aerohive AP will give priority to the .11g client since its signal is closer and thus faster. With this technology, Aerohive can also give priority to a fast 802.11n client over a slower 802.11n client.
Dynamic Airtime Scheduling also applies policy to the clients as well. For instance, a company can give airtime priority to employee devices over guest devices,
Niall Pariag, senior network administrator at Riverside Health Care Systems Inc., a network of hospitals and clinics based in Yonkers, N.Y., is in the process of replacing legacy Cisco infrastructure in his facilities with Aerohive 802.11n access points. He said Dynamic Airtime Scheduling solves a problem he’s been worried about ever since he decided to upgrade to 801.11n.
“It solves the only quirk we had with the wireless network, that slow clients basically slow down fast clients,” he said. “That’s a concern we kept ignoring, because we knew we were going to cross that bridge when we got to it. We don’t have that many clients connecting now, so it wasn’t a concern.”
Pariag said that in the future his company will be adding more and more clients to the wireless network, and airtime scheduling will become critical to him.]]>
Brian Johnson, director of public relations for Trapeze Networks, called me last week and implied that Meru Networks is receiving favorable coverage from Gartner over Trapeze. Gartner placed Meru in the visionary quadrant for the second year in a row, while Trapeze slipped from visionary status to niche player.
Johnson revealed to me that Tim Zimmerman, one of the Gartner analysts who wrote this year’s Magic Quadrant, is a former employee of Meru Networks. I checked around and indeed Zimmerman was director of industry marketing for Meru Networks from Octbor 2007 to January 2008. Johnson also pointed out that Gartner’s former research director for wireless LAN technology, Rachna Ahlawat, is currently the vice president of strategic marketing for Meru.
Johnson explained that Trapeze has had a good year and is a superior company to Meru. He said it “stretches the imagination” that Meru could be ranked higher than his comapny.
“We have a higher market share than Meru,” Johnson said. “We have more OEM relationships. And we are a public company with a large bankroll behind us while Meru is a private company that is rapidly burning through its cash… In terms of ability to execute, I think that Trapeze has a higher ability to execute than Meru can.”
Johnson also told me that Trapeze brought eight products to market this year and three of them won awards (I looked through a list of press releases on Trapeze’s website and didn’t see that many product releases, but perhaps I missed a few). He also pointed out that Trapeze won the largest wireless LAN deployment in the world this year when it closed a deal with the University of Minnesota.
Johnson was reacting to a story about the Magic Quadrant which I wrote last week. When I talked to Mike King, Zimmerman’s coauthor, for that story, he told me that Trapeze’s downgrade was reflective of its relative silence on the market since it was acquired by Belden over the summer. He suggested that things have slowed down at Trapeze while Belden goes through the process of absorbing it. And he predicted that Trapeze could lose some key OEM partners when its deals with those expire in a few months. All this can be fairly typical for mergers and acquisitions. Motorola experienced a similar decline on the Magic Quadrant when it bought Symbol Technologies, but it has since rebounded and is now identified as a market leader by Gartner.
Now any industry veteran will tell you that analysts take jobs with vendors all the time and research firms like Gartner commonly hire analysts from the vendors they cover. Ahlawat left Gartner for Meru in June of 2007 so it’s been well over a year since she’s had any relationship with the firm. However, Zimmerman left Meru less than a year ago, so it was worth my talking to Gartner about this issue.
First I talked to Andrew Spender, Gartner’s vice president of corporate communications. He said Gartner employs a variety of measures to ensure that its analysts are independent and objective.
“First we have our principals of ethical conduct and our code of conduct which all our analysts sign up to as soon as they join the company,” he said. “They have very intensive training in what that code of conduct means and how they need to adhere to it. It’s very specific in terms of accountability.”
Spender also said that no piece of Gartner research is ever the work of one single analyst.
“When you buy a piece of research or become a Gartner client, you obtain the research from Gartner, not from an individual analyst. Each piece of research is peer reviewed. Our community of 650 analysts have a formal obligation to do peer reviews of other analysts’ research to ensure that any kinds of inconsistencies, any errors of data collection or any errors of conclusions are challenged and corrected before the research sees the light of day.”
I also spoke to Larry Perlstein, Gartner’s ombudsman (Gartner is the only analyst firm I know of that employees ombudsmen), about this matter. He has already conducted an investigation of Trapeze’s complaint.
“Basically I didn’t find anything that made me concerned that there was any real fact in Trapeze’s issues. The analyst that they expressed a special worry about, who was formerly at Meru, was there for only a very short period of time, about three months. It wasn’t clear that anything in that involvement was going to dramatically influence this particular piece of research. Most of our analysts come from vendors. As part of our hiring process we try to ensure that people have the capacity and potential to be balanced and objective.”
On the same day that I spoke to Johnson at Trapeze about this issue, I happened to chat with David Callisch, vice president of marketing at Ruckus Networks. Ruckus is another niche player in this year’s Quadrant, ranked a little lower than Trapeze.
“Tim Zimmerman and Mike King are both very stand up guys,” Callisch said. “I thought we had a pretty mediocre spot on the Quadrant, but to be quite objective, who are we to say? Vendors always think they deserve a better spot… But Tim and Mike did a lot of due diligence. I think they did a good job even if we got a lousy spot.”
He said that Gartner placed Meru high probably because the firm likes the innovative single channel approach Meru takes with its access points, which solves voice roaming very well. He said he has doubts about whether this approach can scale as well as more mainstream wireless LAN technologies, but he doesn’t fault Gartner for giving Meru high marks for their technology.
Callisch went on to call out Trapeze for its acquisition by Belden. He said Trapeze has a very good product line, but it had marketed its technology poorly, driving down the value of the company.
“They ended up being sold to Belden for pennies on the dollar and that hurt the valuation of other [wireless LAN] companies” he said.]]>
The Financial Times reported that Juniper was on the prowl for a WLAN counterpart, and named and unnamed analysts predicted Meru and Aruba were the likely targets.
Nonsense! blogged Chris Silva from Forrester. Juniper’s ready to acquire, but Aruba is too expensive, and Meru is kinda funny but who knows.
Well, Aruba e-mailed us back to make it fairly clear they’re not interested in Juniper, either. Maybe they’re playing hard to get? Maybe they’re protecting a tender heart? Who knows, but this is what Mike Tennefoss, Aruba’s head of strategic marketing, had to say:
As we enter the next wave of networking, an inflection point marked by the pending final ratification of 802.11n, innovative technology will be required to build converged security, mobility and wireless solutions. Aruba has assembled a world-class team focused on this objective, and we believe our work will be best accomplished as an independent company.
Before Juniper gets too heart-broken, though, they might still find a match. Minutes before calling it a night yesterday, I got a call on my cell phone from Rachna Ahlawat, Meru’s vice president of strategic marketing.
“There is enough going on and enough customers who believe in us and invest us to keep us busy,” she said.
That being said, how would Meru like to be swept of their feet?
“We are open to all different options as the company goes forward,” Rachna said. IPO or acquisition, it matters not, she said, because the company was not designed for one or another exit strategy.
So maybe Juniper does still have a shot at love after all.
For more on the acquisition possibilities, and how the economy might affect them, read on about Juniper’s WLAN acquisition ambitions on SearchNetworking.com]]>
When it comes to enterprise Wi-Fi, the industry’s got enough drama for an MTV reality series, with constant bickering over what WLAN architecture’s better, or which .11n product truly supports PoE, or which skeezy AP went home with a stranger last night.
All this is to say it’s not surprising there’s a lot of back and forth about a rumored Juniper acquisition of Aruba or Meru. Mergermarket.com reported that two analysts and another source think a Juniper purchase is looming, and these two are the likely targets.
Chris Silva, Forrester analyst, had his own theory: Juniper, indeed, was ready to bite, but Aruba is too expensive and Meru might be too weird:
So, there it is, I’m drawing a line in the sand that the acquisition target is not Aruba, perhaps Meru and potentially another, even smaller vendor. Nothing short of hedging on my part, I suppose, but I will say this: WLAN is a logical line extension for Juniper, and I’m not ruling out – but rather expecting – at least one more acuqisition before the year is out.
We followed up with Chris to name names, and he kindly got back to us.
“It’s a tough call,” he e-mailed. “Bluesocket seems to be one of the last men standing. Aerohive is too small and too new and Extricom, while likely a cheaper buy than Meru, is the same technology without the customer list.”
Aruba, however, doesn’t seem to be sitting at home waiting for Juniper’s phone call. They’ve teamed up with Foundry to form a “co-marketing relationship between the companies’ wired and wireless LAN products for Federal customers.” A small step for LAN, to be sure, but maybe signaling a future giant leap (acquisition?) for LAN-kind?
Straight from Aruba’s announcement of the “relationship”:
“This collaboration affords Aruba and Foundry the opportunity to target a sizable Federal market in need of new and replacement secure networking infrastructure,” said Keerti Melkote, Aruba’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “We have steadily enhanced our suite of wired products, including wired remote networking technology, to complement our industry-leading wireless LANs. As Foundry’s first wireless LAN vendor to be designated an Ironpowered Technology Partner, we’re now in a unique position to co-market our products, together with Foundry switches and routers, across a broad range of Federal applications.”
Sounds awfully cuddly to me.]]>
Juniper’s had no qualms in hiding their enterprise ambitions, and now they might be looking to fill out their portfolio to include wireless options, according to a mergermarket.com report, which references an unnamed source and two analysts:
Eric Suppiger, analyst at Signal Hill, noted that Juniper, which began as a company selling routers to telecom carriers, acquired an enterprise networking business when it purchased Netscreen for USD 4bn in 2004. However, continued Suppiger, it lacks a wireless portfolio to compete with Cisco Systems. The second analyst said “Juniper needs a wireless play.”
Suppiger predicted Juniper will acquire either Aruba or Meru, but not both since they sell similar products.
One of the main attacks Juniper currently endures is that they don’t offer end-to-end solutions for the enterprise, a problem they’ve been working hard to fix. A wireless play would go a long ways towards letting IT organizations become “Juniper shops,” and both Aruba and Meru are names taking seriously in wireless networking circles, although the latter’s non-traditional “blanket” approach might give some pause.
Image courtesy of Dylan Horrocks.]]>
That possibility sounded pretty remote when I spoke with Cisco this afternoon. Ben Gibson, senior director of mobility solutions marketing for Cisco, said the company views channel layering/blanketing solutions (like Meru and Extricom use) as different, but not necessarily in a good way. He said these implementations, while they may or may not explicitly break standards, break the standards spirit and this has been shown, he said, to cause problems for other nearby networks. “I think it also introduces a lot of questions about such an approach to really scale properly,” he said. Cisco has been touting their Duke case study as the world’s largest .11n network, so it would seem they have scale down pretty well.
Cisco also wasn’t too happy with the designation of “fourth generation.” Gibson said most of the problems these systems solve have already been solved better by traditional players (namely Cisco). Sub-50 ms hand offs. Seamless VoIP calling. Ubiquitous, consistent wireless access no matter where you are or or how the wind is blowing. All with what they tout as better, more complete security.
“The next generation to me is, how do you turn it from a wireless network to a true mobility application network?” Gibson said. He said it was Cisco, not Meru/Extricom, who was paving the way for this fourth generation with integrated device chips that can boost wireless performance, with VoIP handsets, with location-aware applications.
So no love lost between Cisco and the new(er) kids on the block, but then again both Extricom and Meru didn’t particularly seem to enjoy being lumped together when I talked to them. It’s a pretty cut-throat industry, not the least because it appears primed to get much bigger over the next few years as enterprises start to look at the real possibility of going almost 100% wireless, meaning huge opportunities for the winners.
Enjoy watching the back and forth? Cisco’s mobility blog has posts that explain why they’re better than Aruba and, more amusingly, draw networking lessons from pre-marital classes. I couldn’t find blogs for any of the other wireless vendors.
As for me, I honestly couldn’t say who has the best approach, but feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or, if you’ve had first-hand experience with some of the platforms, e-mail me at email@example.com. Who knows, maybe there will even be a CCNA Video Mentor in it for you if you’re interviewed.]]>