Aruba Networks announced today that it has purchased AirWave wireless for US$37 Million in cash and stock. AirWave’s multi-vendor network management products will continue to be offered by Aruba and the product will continue to be developed as a vendor-agnostic solution.

Aruba, making announcements of 802.11n products, higher-capacity controllers and network security products, has been shoring up its position as a fast-follower to market-share leader Cisco Systems. In AirWave, Aruba adds the ability to enter into multi-client infrastructure situations, potentially taking business away from other players with management platforms that cannot make sense of the multiple pieces of disparate wireless networking hardware one sees most commonly in the large enterprise – a key segment for Aruba.

The acquisition strengthens Aruba’s position as both a player in WLAN infrastructure as well as a partner for network management tools, continuing its move out of the WLAN "pure-play" role it played pre-IPO.
Time will tell what Aruba does with branding and development of the AirWave products. Executives state the vendor plans to continue development of the solution as an independent product, however, it is possible customers may now see AirWave a bit less strategic a partner, especially if they don’t have Aruba hardware in place. On the contrary, however, Aruba stands to gain entry into organizations where network management has been the differentiator for the incumbent WLAN infrastructure vendor.