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Celebrating innovation, here and everywhere

Aruba Employee
Aruba Employee

Aruba is sponsoring a Startup Crawl today in San Francisco, and it may not be initially obvious why a well-established market leader would be interested in doing that.  So I thought I’d explain.


Fast Company wrote an article about the top innovative companies of 2013, and Nike topped the list.  In that article, CEO Mark Parker says, "Companies fall apart when their model is so successful that it stifles thinking that challenges it.”  The article explores how Nike purposely invests in disruptive technology, even at the risk of changing its existing business.


So when Aruba Networks racks up a decade of differentiation built on the power and intelligence of our controller appliances, that kind of momentum runs the risk of keeping us from changing.  But Aruba is a company founded to innovate in one specific area: mobility.  And the nature of mobility is that it’s constantly changing. 


For example, four years ago there was no tablet market.  Now, on the week of the release the 4th generation Apple iPad Air, IDC predicts that the tablet market will overtake the decades-old PC market within weeks.


And a $27 billion mobile app market has sprung up as a result!


Another interesting result is that Wi-Fi has become indispensible to businesses of all sizes.  Wi-Fi is “oxygen,” in the words of a major social networking customer of Aruba. When we looked at the changing needs of our customers, we noticed smaller networks have the same mission-critical demands and impatient users that big companies have – but often with fewer resources to support those networks.


So we set out to create a Wi-Fi solution for customers that don’t have enterprise-grade budgets or experts, but have the same demands for reliable, high performance wireless networks.  To do it, we created a special product unit -- a startup within a company -- dedicated to innovating a new model of delivering mobility.  The goal:   a simpler, more accessible wireless platform for business critical networks of ALL sizes.  And no sacred cows!


You shouldn’t be surprised, then when we tell you that we found the best way to streamline Wi-Fi for smaller networks was to take the intelligent, high performance controller appliance that all our customers love – and get rid of it.   Change the upfront investment model, change CapEx to OpEx, let people pay for functions on a subscription basis.  All without a controller.


That sounds like sacrilege in a company that is built on its controller business.  But the world of mobility changes quickly, and markets are made and lost in just a few short years.   And we saw that what might initially look like risking our current business would actually open up a whole adjacent market in small-to-medium enterprises.  Two years later, Aruba has a new second-generation  Cloud Wi-Fi, just launched on October 1. 


It’s not just different than what we did in the past, it’s different than other solutions on the market.  You don’t have to make the hard tradeoffs between consumer grade technology and enterprise complexity.  You don’t have to sacrifice performance or reliability to get that simplicity and affordability that smaller organizations need.  


Instead, you get Cloud Wi-Fi, but with:

  • 10x faster speeds:  When connecting lots of mobile devices at once, Aruba tests at 10x faster than other cloud Wi-Fi solutions.
  • Unsurpassed Uptime: Web-scale cloud service and redundant uplinks keep your WLAN available all the time.
  • Unmatched Affordability: One set of access points for headquarters, branch and home – without any hidden costs.


We feel that Aruba Cloud Wi-Fi is our own living proof that even decade-old companies can transform, if they have the intellectual honesty to pursue innovation. 


So, in the spirit of innovation, we are enthusiastically sponsoring this event celebrating one of the most radical thinking hotbeds of creativity in the world:  San Francisco Startup Crawl.  Join us with the SF mayor’s office and SF New Tech to tour the city’s brightest startups, and come hear about Aruba’s own story while having a drink.

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