BradReese.Com Instant Quotes

Home About Repair Power Supplies Refurbished Blog Quick Links Site Map Contact Us

Brad Reese speaks out


Power Supplies

VoIP Gateways

Cisco Repair

Refurbished Cisco

Cisco CPQRGs

New Cisco

New HP ProCurve

Cisco Tools

Competitive Lab Tests

Tech Forums

How-to Tutorials

CCIE Gossip


View archive of Brad Reese speaks out

Subscribe to Brad Reese speaks out

Aruba beats Cisco in WLAN user survey as revenue soars +44%
Wed, 11/17/10 - 4:34pm    View comments

There's got to be a really good reason why Aruba's 1st quarter revenue soared +44% year-over-year. Especially since Cisco's 1st quarter wireless revenue merely increased +9%. Well, I think I've found the reason below:

Aruba NetworksCiscoNemertes Research released a Wireless LAN 2010 survey which compiled and measured the views and experiences of 2,004 actual users who've selected, designed and deployed WLAN technology.

Remarkably, Aruba beat out Cisco winning the highest overall rating, 4.03.

It's my personal opinion that the Nemertes' survey below has "extra clout" because its not sponsored by any vendors.

Nemertes 2010 PilotHouse Awards - Wireless LAN
Source: Nemertes Research

Revealingly, the survey scored Aruba higher in customer service than Cisco: "Their technology was better and the service was better," says an IT manager at a large utility company, who noted that his organization deployed Aruba during the transition from 802.11g to 802.11n, which "caused some problems." Aruba's ability to handle the transition relatively seamlessly, however, garnered them the higher ratings. That customer service is likely what gave Aruba the edge over Cisco.

Aruba's survey results

Aruba Ratings
Source: Nemertes Research

Overall, IT professionals who deployed Aruba were enthusiastic about their selection, particularly the management capabilities. "The network team loves Aruba. Their technology is way ahead of Cisco and other competitors, especially for roaming and management of the solution," says the telecom director at a midsized retail organization.

Agrees the director at a midsize educational institution, who scored Aruba 4s across the board:

"The biggest part of (the Aruba solution is) the management capability. We have more than 670 access points we manage. We have a good management system through Aruba to manage outdoor space; classroom space, to make sure it's optimized."

Even Cisco users agree with this assessment. Says one, an engineer at a large financial-services firm who rated both vendors:

"Cisco is generally very good, (but) remote APs are behind Aruba's, (and it has) have been behind in its controller features compared to Aruba."

And with respect to customer service, this IT professional says of Aruba, "They do a great job, the tech support is excellent."

Another IT professional, a director at a large manufacturing company, says support is the main reason the organization is moving from Cisco to Aruba.

""They (Aruba) are the vendor we are moving to globally, replacing Cisco. The stuff works. They are very easy to deal with. (We) deal with them directly, instead of a partner who doesn't understand what they're doing. Cisco will spend a lot of time talking about why the connection problems you have are in your laptop."

The message for Cisco?

In the WLAN arena, Aruba is clearly the player to beat. Aruba is making inroads in exactly the sort of enterprises that could be expected to be Cisco strongholds (large, global organizations).

Cisco's survey results

Cisco Ratings
Source: Nemertes Research

Cisco has the top ratings among all vendors rated for technology. And the company came within a hair of garnering the winning spot in the Market Leader category. Yet what's surprising here is the story behind the numbers: although Cisco's WLAN users rate the company highly overall, they don't sound as enthusiastic as Aruba's, and there's always an implicit "but" in their high ratings.

For example, the director of a midsize educational institution leads his rating by complaining about price: "(Cisco has an) expensive product line," before going on to praise the company's ease of use, scalability, and security:

"(Cisco's solution is) simple to deploy, (and provides for) easy growth as well as security options that can be simple or as complex as we want."

The director of IT at a midsized healthcare organization shares the concerns with Cisco's perceived high cost: "It integrates well with the Cisco infrastructure and has good management tools but is expensive."

And the director of telecom who rated Cisco's technical capabilities highly actually says, "They're not innovative. Companies like Aruba are on the cutting edge." His rationale for deploying Cisco instead of Aruba? "We're a Cisco shop."

Even users who provide unqualified praise are less than ecstatic. Says the director of a midsized healthcare organization, who rated Cisco all 4's: "It works. There's not much to it."

Some of this tepid response is attributable, of course, to Cisco's market dominance. Across a broad range of products, technologies, and services, Nemertes has consistently tracked a "Market Leader backlash" tendency: IT professionals expect that Market Leaders have superior characteristics across the board, and therefore apply a higher standard to these players than to less dominant ones. This tendency has affected ratings of companies including AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft, as well as Cisco, and no methodology can entirely eradicate it from ratings (since there's no credible way to quantify the degree to which expectations are higher for market powerhouses).

But there's another message that resonates above and beyond that natural tendency: the feeling of being taken a bit for granted by Cisco. Benchmark participants who rated WLAN products consistently described their allegiance to Cisco as resulting from factors such as inertia, or a company-wide decision to select Cisco. And the overall tone is less than committed.

This is not good news for Cisco, since WLANs (unlike, say, enterprise routing) comprise an area in which IT professionals can more reasonably consider alternative providers, particularly when making technology transitions (such as from older versions of the 802.11 spec to 802.11n).

Our view?

In the WLAN area, despite its strong showing overall, and particularly in the tech areas, Cisco has its work cut out.

WLAN vendors that fall into the Market Challenger bloc

The general perception among IT professionals is that market challenger vendors, as a bloc, provide acceptable quality at a good price. Says the IT consultant at a large financial services firm who rated Cisco:

"The price is too high for a commodity product. You could plug 3Com* in here and it would work the same."

*3Com was rated separately because the HP acquisition was not yet complete during the data-collection phase of the Nemertes survey.

Survey's conclusion

For IT professionals, the big message for WLAN procurement in 2010 and 2011 is that the most significant decision they'll make is whether to consider primarily "name-brand" players, or are willing to look beyond market-share leaders. Among name-brand vendors, they should most certainly consider Aruba as well as Cisco and selection criteria should consider architecture and management (categories in which Aruba does well) and scalability, security, and integration with existing infrastructure (categories in which Cisco does well).

If IT folks elect to broaden the shortlist to other providers, one big benefit is likely to be cost savings (the Market Challengers tend to be lower cost than the Leaders). Within each category, however, the distinction between providers is relatively small, meaning that, essentially, with WLAN gear, you get what you pay for. In particular, business users who elect to go with one of the more residentially focused providers should recognize that customer service is likely not to be entirely up to expectations.

Finally, IT practicitioners would do well to revisit their chosen suppliers during technology transitions (particularly as they deploy 802.11n). Vendors, particularly those in the Market Challenger category should pay close attention to their differentiators and go-to-market strategies (particularly support). And Motorola should either dramatically improve across the board or consider exiting this market.

What's your take, do you agree with the WLAN survey users that Aruba is best overall?

Contact Brad Reese

Subscribe to Brad Reese speaks out

Brad's Favorite Story Picks

  1. View archive of Brad Reese speaks out
  2. Aruba Networks Q1'FY11 sales expected to increase +47% Y/Y
  3. According to the stock market, Cisco's issues appear to be Cisco specific
  4. Padmasree Warrior is leading Cisco's sequentially declining security and switch sales
  5. Cisco's gross margin, router and switch sales are under siege
  6. August 2010 edition of the Cisco Product Quick Reference Guide is now available online
  7. Cisco suing small business victims of telco-finance scams
  8. Former Cisco board director slams Cisco CEO John Chambers for outsourcing jobs overseas
  9. Half of F5's 8% ADC market share gain came from Cisco
  10. Riverbed clobbers Cisco
  11. Only buy from authorized Cisco partners? Both the FBI and Cisco appear to contradict such advice
  12. Juniper has 20% top line growth prospects
  13. Cisco terminates its prestigious CCSP and CCVP certification brands
  14. Polycom holding its own in battle with Cisco/Tandberg
  15. The firing of Cisco cofounder Sandy Lerner
  16. Reporting on Microsoft Exchange with Cisco NetFlow technology
  17. Cisco fined R$3.3 billion BRL and has its assets and bank accounts blocked by court order in Brazil
  18. Joltid transaction a hangman's noose around Skype's neck?
  19. 4 steps to configure Cisco Flexible NetFlow
  20. Cisco FY10 router sales down $1.366 billion from FY08
blog comments powered by Disqus

Brad Reese music work ambience

Supplement Cisco SMARTnet Contracts


©2011 BradReese.Com - Home - About - Repair - Power Supplies - Refurbished - Blog - Quick Links - Site Map - Contact Us