Five months after being grabbed by HP, Aruba Networks is gearing up to take its cloud and mobile networking to new heights across EMEA.
Backed by its new owner, the vendor is looking to gain ground in its key verticals of education, retail, healthcare, hospitality, and events, while riding the wave of "ensumerisation" - the vendor's term for the blurring of consumer and enterprise territories.
We caught up with Dominic Orr (pictured), who has held the position of Aruba chief executive for nine years, to discuss channel strategy, the HP partnership and his outlook for the networking space.
What do you think attracted HP to Aruba Networks?
First and foremost, I'd say it was the mobility of our offering. Because Aruba started up with no legacy view, unlike a lot of larger companies, we've been able to implement disruptive, next-gen, forward-looking technology. We have that visionary element and with HP's access to accounts, we can bring that to the mainstream.
How much independence has Aruba retained?
We're being run as a subsidiary company but when it comes to tech, we are still very much in control. It's in our go-to-market that we want to leverage the HP engine, but we will remain as user-centric as ever.
Can we expect a shake-up of our partner programme anytime soon?
We can guarantee that things will remain stable for the next year, but after that we will be looking to take best of both from both channels. In the meantime, everything is exactly the same, we're upholding all of our relationships. The HP partners who want to upgrade their skills with us have freedom to move into Aruba's partner programme.
What would you say is at the heart of your partner programme?
We're 100 per cent channel-centric in EMEA, so training and partner enablement is key. Those willing to invest in our skills tend to be higher-profit-margin partners, because we aren't just about products and one-off transactions. Software and services offer incredibly profitable opportunities... provide partners with strong returns for investing in us.
Are you looking to expand your channel?
We're always looking to grow our channel, but never at the expense of our current partners and their experience with us. So while growing our partner base is definitely on the agenda, we'll never dilute our standards or spread ourselves too thin.
What's your take on hybrid cloud and its adoption?
First off, there are two types of hybrid. In terms of on premise versus cloud, hybrid allows companies to migrate their data gradually, at their own pace and in a way that works for them. Then there's public vs private cloud, which allows companies to differentiate between highly sensitive and common information. Adoption is less a trickle and more a tornado, end users demand it in huge volumes, which is why with HP, we are making sure we have the infrastructure in place to cater to this.
What would you say to those who have reservations about the cloud's security?
The sentiment that on-premise is always safer was circulating several years ago, and there are still people who are frozen and not willing to move ahead. But the drive towards mobility is so strong that lagging behind with the cloud is not really option. I suspect resisting it would be unpopular with partners.
What is the biggest challenge of operating across EMEA?
On the currency front, the euro against US dollar has obviously been a challenge, but I think the worst is behind us. Then there's data legislation, which can be difficult when you are dealing with so many different governments, each with their own policies.
Do you think emerging markets are ready for your technology?
You'd be surprised - of course the usage of mobile devices and cloud is not limited to mature markets. In fact, growth can often be more rapid in developing companies because they aren't bound by legacies. Our distribution in the Middle East has been particularly strong.
What are you targets for the next few years?
Because we are no longer public, I can't provide you with revenue specifics, but in terms of market share, we would like to double it in the next three or four years.
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