Financials Mergers & Acquisitions

HPE’s latest purchase taps into unified networks trend

Company’s Aruba division acquires start-up Rasa Networks, which specializes in performance management across wired and wireless

Two important trends in enterprise networking lie behind Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE’s) latest acquisition, of performance management start-up Rasa Networks – companies’ rising desire to unify the management of their wired and wireless systems, and to entrust that to a cloud-based ‘as a service’ provider.

HPE is putting together a powerful play in enterprise and telco network services, around its acquisition of corporate WiFi company Aruba and its virtualization platform. The parent firm was clear, when it was separated from the rest of HP last year, that service providers and wireless/wireline networking would be key growth targets.

The company has now signed a definitive agreement to acquire Rasa, which specializes in network performance management and analytics. The price was not disclosed, but the new acquisition will be part of the Aruba division. Rasa’s technology will become part of the Clarity wireless management software, according to an internal memo seen by IDG, and the start-up’s team will be merged into Aruba’s R&D group, reporting to CTO Keerti Melkote.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of fiscal 2016, and HPE spokespeople confirmed: “The definitive agreement to acquire Rasa Networks aligns with HPE’s strategy to focus on key growth areas of the portfolio.” It was reported earlier in the year that Cisco and Ruckus had also shown interest in the start-up, which was founded by former Cisco engineer Partho Mishra in 2013.

The logical next step for HPE/Aruba would be to build a unified network management framework to support management of wired and wireless systems from the cloud. This would address some key growth opportunities as enterprises look to streamline their infrastructure and outsource the complex business of optimizing performance across wireline, WiFi and cellular.

Cloud-based services are seeing increased uptake, but many are specific to one type of network, but a more unified approach is being pursued by several large enterprise players – Cisco, for instance, has also been assembling the pieces of such a platform, around its 2012 acquisition of cloud-based WiFi firm Meraki Networks.

Other start-ups will be hoping to ride the wave too. Last month, one of them, Nyansa, launched Voyance, a software-as-a-service covering IT network analytics, which can analyze data from wired and wireless systems to support tuning and problem resolution across the entire campus.

Its CEO, Abe Ankumah, was formerly a senior director at Aruba and then went on to Meraki and, after the acquisition, to a post as director of Cisco’s cloud networking group. He co-founded Nyansa in 2013. The CVs of these entrepreneurs reflect the tight-knit group of companies, including Aruba and Meraki, which have real pedigree in this area – now they are part of larger groups, other start-ups will hope to follow in their footsteps.

Zeus Kerrvala, principal analyst with ZK Research, told NetworkWorld: “We’re living in a world where everything is connected, and in many organizations wireless is the primary connection, so being able to incorporate the two is critical. Wired and wireless visibility is typically done separately and you end up having to correlate this stuff manually.”

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