Last week Mark Peters and I attended the Aruba (an HPE company) Atmosphere event in Las Vegas. It has been three years since Aruba became part of HPE and officially took over all campus switching from HP.
So, you may ask, how are they doing? Well, as it turns out, they are doing pretty darn well. According to CEO Keerti Melkote, Aruba has achieved 15% growth to result in 2.5B in 2017, with a nearly 50/50 mix of wired to wireless (perhaps a tad more on the wireless side). All of this results in Aruba having about a 20 percent market share.
To what do they attribute this growth? To Keerti, it is quite simple, it is their customer-first, customer-last culture that drives the company. Their 70,000 strong Airhead community is very important to them and HPE has allowed them to operate independently.
Aruba has focused its attention on the intelligent edge and want to be the platform for the intelligent edge. A key part of becoming the platform of choice is continuing to provide innovative and easy-to-use solutions for the edge. To that end, Aruba was busy in 2017, bringing to market (either organically or inorganically) an upgraded OS (OS8.0) and Dynamic Segmentation for both wireless and wired devices, introducing the 8400 modular core switch, introducing Meridian for mobile engagement and asset tracking, and launching a brand new OS-CX that is cloud-native and microservices-based. They also managed to be the first to get ClearPass common criteria certified for use in the federal government.
For 2018, Aruba announced NetInsight, which delivers ML-powered insights to quickly identify issues. This product will be networked into the airhead community so users can compare how efficient their deployment is as compared to other like environments. Aruba also announced the acquisition of Cape Networks and the ability to provide proactive customer experience testing, initially in an appliance form factor and then as a software app. Lastly, SD-WAN capabilities are on the roadmap for 2018 as Aruba looks to provide that functionality as part of an intelligent edge platform.
Given all these innovations, it becomes a bit clearer how the growth has been achieved and a very loyal customer base continues to expand. The customers or rather “airheads” Mark and I spoke to were very pleased with their deployments and are using the Aruba technology to drive real business innovation.
Keerti insists that he wants to build the biggest small company around to ensure Aruba stays focused on the customer first and the customer last. If he can continue to drive this culture and drive innovative solutions to the market, Aruba has a good shot at continued growth, and, who knows, maybe Aruba can even influence the culture of its parent, HPE, in a very positive light.