By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
We didn’t see this one coming but in retrospect it was obvious: AI is the future of networking – including Wi-Fi – and HPE didn’t have enough of that. Now they do. The Juniper/Mist acquisition is proof that AI plus hybrid architectures are viewed as necessary functionalities for enterprise networking success, says Dell’Oro.
Last week Tuesday HPE – parent company of HPE Aruba Networks – announced the acquisition of competitor Juniper Networks for US$14 billion. According to Dell’Oro the Wi-Fi market numbers now look like this: HPE will add Juniper/Mist’s 4% market share (US$288M) to its existing 13% market share (US$1.1B). The two together will still amount to less than half of Cisco’s Wi-Fi dominant market share.
But that is not the most important perspective on the acquisition, says Dell’Oro Research Director Siân Morgan.
“Juniper/Mist has been on a rocket ship trajectory over the past four years. Mist WLAN, offered only as a public-cloud managed solution, grew 47% year-on-year for the first three quarters of 2023, while HPE’s WLAN revenues grew at less than half that rate. Notably, revenues for HPE’s public-cloud managed WLAN only grew 4% during that period, pointing to a potential complementary in the combination of the two companies’ WLAN offers,” she says.
She also points to the fact that HPE Aruba is well known for radio network performance excellence – and even won a Wi-Fi NOW Award this December for Best Enterprise Solution – while Juniper/Mist excels in AI-operations and Cloud, a segment where HPE Aruba Networks’ performance has been less than stellar.
She says there will likely be some cannibalisation in the service provider, retail, and higher education segments where both Juniper/Mist and HPE Aruba have strong presences. This could be balanced by boosting Juniper/Mist’s performance with HPE’s scale in other segments such as finance, professional services, and government, she says.
“The bigger technological challenge will be the development of a hybrid WLAN roadmap – involving seamless functionality across public cloud and on-premises managed WLAN equipment. Cisco and Extreme Networks already have a head start on that front,” she says.
More consolidation in the works – and what about NaaS?
Meanwhile CommScope/RUCKUS has been widely rebranded and re-engineered as an AI operations company – read more here – while it is an open secret that the RUCKUS division of CommScope is for sale. No word on what Extreme Networks intends to do but more general market consolidation is probably already in the pipeline as enterprise Wi-Fi competition intensifies.
And while HPE and Juniper/Mist work on the gargantuan task of bringing their operations together – which will take months at best and no doubt cause some disruption – new opportunities will open up for smaller, more nimble infrastructure providers such as NaaS newcomers Nile and Join Digital.