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Aruba Networks takes to AirWave for $37m

Will use white flag of neutrality to shoot at Cisco

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Wireless switch specialist Aruba Networks is buying AirWave Wireless, a multi-vendor WLAN management firm, for $37m.

AirWave software manages different types of wireless networks built with equipment from a variety of manufacturers including Aruba, Cisco, Motorola, HP, Avaya, 3Com, Juniper and several others. The software also supports upcoming wireless technology such as WiMAX and 802.11n.

Aruba spokesman Michael Tennefoss said the company's charter for AirWave is to "continue doing exactly what they're doing," but with the added resources of Aruba behind it.

AirWave software will continue to be sold as a standalone vendor-neutral product and will also be integrated into future Aruba products. The acquisition will also add compatibility to wireless technologies currently unsupported by Aruba products such as point-to-point bridges and Metro Mesh.

"It's our intention to not only continue to sell the software as it is, but expand on its vendor support and capabilities," said Tennefoss.

Because AirWave software manages old and new networking equipment side-by-side, customers can more easily upgrade their WLAN without needing to replace all their equipment, Tennefoss said. it also puts Aruba's foot in the door for a large installment of potential customers currently using competing systems, he added.

"They can get better management of Cisco's networks than Cisco offers itself. We will offer complementary features that will work with what [customers] already own."

And once they're on the wagon, Aruba hopes to woo them over to the company's own equipment, of course.

AirWave will operate as a separate business unit within Aruba and remain in its San Mateo, California headquarters. "Virtually all" staff will stay on-board, including management. The deal is expected to close at the end of March.

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