I’m concerned about the state of WLAN vendor marketing. In the last year, a relatively precipitous drop-off of marketing driven "news" has occurred in my RSS reader, and a noticeable lack of "pitch decks" are finding their way into my inbox. That’s not to say that I’m not still drowning in press releases (no, the fact that the Poughkeepsie School District is using your solution is not worthy of coverage) but I’m seeing less and less sizzle in a time where more would be better. A good thing for me, perhaps, but not a good thing for continuing to make the case for Wi-Fi.
Recently, Network World completed testing on 802.11n infrastructure posting the results in an online article dated this week. Results aside, look at the vendors participating in the survey: Aerohive, Bluesocket, Siemens and Motorola. Aside from Motorola, the vendors included are not market-share leaders in WLAN gear. Aerohive, which offers a controller-less architecture and, until recently, was considered a startup by many has not – to date – come close to many of the other WLAN players such as Aruba, Cisco, HP’s ProCurve, and Meru in terms of building a marquee client roster. Similar can be reported of Bluesocket and, while Siemens made a splash with its energy sipping 802.11n products earlier in the year, not much has been widely reported on them since.
David Newman of Network World appropriately called out the non-participating vendors. An interesting lot of non-participants, here. I can give vendors like Trapeze and Colubris a pass given recent acquisition moves and the associated and inevitable management changes that make participating in a public, head-to-head evaluation a political hot potato. That leaves the larger vendors, though: Cisco, HP*, Meru? Where are you guys?
At this time of economic instability, I’d like to see more of the vendors trotting out the story of why Wi-Fi is a cost saving measure over wired Ethernet, but nobody’s made a big splash on network-spend-marketing since Nortel at the last Interop, where it debuted the "Cisco Tax" strategy. Aruba is doing some interesting work on green via its Green Island project – launched yesterday- which can also double as cost-saving info. Is there anyone else I’m missing?
This is the time to be marketing, and getting dollars earmarked for cost-saving technology investments, but I’m not sure WLAN vendors are listening.
* As the acquirer of Colubris, perhaps the same bureaucratic delays apply here as well.
By Chris Silva
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