Microsoft Puts Aruba Networks on The Map

UPDATED: Putting one vendor on its heels and another on the map, Microsoft will replace its Cisco wireless local area network gear with equipment from Aruba Networks.

With more than 25,000 users on the network at any given time in 60 countries, Microsoft’s WLAN is one of the world’s largest. It is deployed in 277 buildings comprising more than 17 million square feet.

Aruba, which was chosen after independent labs tested its equipment against better-known rivals, will supply Microsoft with mobile controllers, software and 5,000 wireless access points.

The system will reduce the equipment needed and will eliminate the need for Microsoft to deploy overlay networks for voice-over-wireless, guest services, security and wireless location services, the companies said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It’s a big win for Aruba, since Microsoft is a very visible, influential and sophisticated company, and made this decision after an extensive evaluation,” Craig J. Mathias, principal with the Farpoint Group, told

Mathias said Cisco is “undoubtedly disappointed,” but its industry position won’t be jeopardized by losing Microsoft’s corporate WLAN business.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner, agreed that the win means more for Aruba than the loss does for Cisco.

“This kind of deal is extremely important for Aruba,” Dulaney said. “Since Cisco was in there on the first round, it is slightly negative for Cisco, but probably won’t impact them all that much.”

Cisco spokesman Charles Sommerhauser said Cisco cannot comment on customer decisions but said the company is very pleased
with the state of the WLAN business. “Cisco has many satisfied customers; we are continuous market share
leaders per analysts and are seeing strong business.”

Aruba is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. It is privately held and has raised $59 million in three rounds from Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital, TrinityVentures and the WK Technology Fund.

It counts German software giant SAP among its enterprise customers and also works with several colleges and universities, including Dartmouth and Yale.

Aruba recently signed a potentially lucrative partnership with French telecom giant Alcatel, which will resell its wireless switches. That move was prompted by Cisco’s $450 million purchase of Airespace.

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