With HP ProCurve’s acquisition of wireless provider Colubris, what should the industry expect?

Oh, who knows… but people have asked my opinion, so I’ll share my thoughts, musings and speculations with the masses.

You can find more information and read my initial reactions in Andrew’s write-up of the CRN release ProCurve’s Colubris Buy A ‘Great Move’

Background. ProCurve, HP’s networking division, has had great success in the layer 2 and 3 switching market, with particularly nice results in their 10GbE products and their new ‘core’ 8212 switch. They’ve even added several security offerings to the portfolio, including their NAC 800 appliance and NBAD and flow analysis product- Network Immunity Manager. But, there was no debating they’ve been lacking in their wireless offerings…

With a couple of standard single- and dual-radio heavy access points and the newer light-ap WESM (wireless edge services module) system- their wireless portfolio certainly hasn’t been the most well-rounded. ProCurve’s move to purchase a wireless vendor was surprising, but not shocking. While ProCurve has OEM’d and purchased technologies from other vendors, I think this marks their first-ever acquisition of another company.

The acquired. Colubris has a strong presence in areas with wireless overlays, such as medical and especially hospitality markets. In these environments, the wireless solution is simply layered over the wired infrastructure, usually completely segregated and certainly managed independently of other systems.

What will be interesting to see is the adjustment of the Colubris teams and partners from a technology ‘overlay’ to a technology ‘integration’. Joining wireless with the networking components and the integrated planning will be something new to all these folks. On the flip side, the ProCurve partners will all have much to learn in the way of Colubris’ product line, new 802.11n products and the planning and power accommodations for them all.

For customers. I’ve been in the channel for a loonnnng time. There are a few expectations and patterns when it comes to time lines and product line integration after an acquisition. When the deal is done and the ink has dried, we expect to see the acquired products (Colubris) being sold under the new brand (ProCurve), but usually with the same part numbers, in just a matter of days or weeks after the fat lady sings. *Note the press release wording “…has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Colubris …”  meaning there will be a period before it’s finalized.

Then there’s the adjustment and product integration period. Usually in 9-18 months, we see the new products either modified or integrated into the new brand. Understanding wireless and the current ProCurve modules, my guess is that the Colubris line will be integrated into the ProCurve portfolio, similarly to the current WESM modules. I seriously doubt the legacy products will be interoperable with the acquired lines- the time and money for R&D to pull that off would greatly outweigh the benefit of it. I would, however, expect ProCurve to have centralized management through their Mobility Manager (or similar) product by the time of portfolio integration.

Customers shouldn’t worry about their current ProCurve wireless purchases. I’m sure like any good manufacturer, when the time comes, ProCurve will offer its customers a nice trade-up program if they want to move from the legacy products to the new integrated Colubris line.

When? I don’t know… We’ll be looking for more information from ProCurve when the deal is done.

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Author, speaker, and recognized authority on network and wireless security architectures, Jennifer (JJ) Minella helps organizations solve technical problems and align teams.

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