Call of the wireless

Aruba is geared up for strong growth in the region - including doubling revenues and increasing staff strength - as enterprises turn to wireless technology to provide access to the workforce.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  August 15, 2007

Enterprises are increasingly moving towards multi-vendor approaches for their technology implementations. This is as true in the Middle East region as in more developed markets such as Western Europe or the Americas, according to Rob Pronk, VP for sales in EMEA at Aruba Networks.

"The one vendor do-it-all approach is questioned by more and more customers. Sometimes it is by experience and sometimes the customer realises that it is not possible to buy the best of technology from one vendor all the time. There is a growing awareness that if you mix and match from various vendors, then you probably end up with the best solution not just for now but for the future as well," says Pronk.

He agrees that such a step can potentially become a management nightmare but states that it does not always have to be so.

"There are standards and there are ways to integrate with management applications. You have got to be realistic, there are no perfect worlds. Sometimes, the way end-to-end solution providers design their products, customers can have a problem with integration for management even with single vendor products. We have just one set of controllers that run one set of software, including management. Users can add functionality by just implementing software licences on top of the platform," adds Pronk.

According to Pronk, analyst firms who base their research on installed access points have found Aruba to have around 20% marketshare, with Cisco leading at more than 60%. He states that while there is growing awareness of multi-vendor strategies, the marketshare mix is likely to stay the same for a while as customers will take some time to understand fully the merits of the approach.

However, this slow uptake promises a strong growth potential for the vendor in the region, believes Pronk. While EMEA revenues are just under a quarter of overall global revenues, Pronk estimates that this could rise to around one-third of total turnover in less than a year's time. Revenues from the region have been doubling year-on-year and Pronk expects this to be the case for this year as well. EMEA staff which numbers 35 now, five of whom concentrate on the Middle East, is expected to double by the same time next year in keeping with growth.

Aruba presents itself as a clear alternative to other vendors by being price-competitive, up to 30% on TCO over three years along with apparent cost differences and also by spreading its brand awareness through its own sales force and customer word-of-mouth marketing.

"In the next few months, we will announce more features on existing platforms for extended functionality. Much of this will be in the voice area. Voice over wireless, as an extension of VoIP is going to be very big. The next stage would be fixed mobile convergence which is coming very soon," says Pronk.

Aruba is working on platforms and solutions that will help ensure seamless movement for mobile personnel from one connectivity medium to the other - say from 3G to wireless and back. It is also simultaneously working on higher speed wireless technologies.

"We believe in the partnership model and we actively work with other vendors in the industry. Microsoft is not only our customer but also one of our important partners. A very large Finnish company in the mobile phone market is also a strategic partner of ours. We have OEM agreements with the likes of Alcatel-Lucent who carry our products with their logo on it," explains Pronk.

"Our vision is to make wireless technology the prominent, if not the exclusive, means to provide access to enterprise workforce. That future is not too far away. There are some enterprises who have the insight and who are at the forefront, ready to invest in the technology. There are others who we help to see into what the future holds. In that way, Aruba does a whole lot of evangelising around our products," adds Pronk.

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