Will Belden treat Trapeze right?
Can a cabling company make the most of a WLAN vendor?
By Peter Judge, Techworld | Techworld | Published: 20:00, 09 June 2008
Other companies' reactions?
Aruba is quickest off the mark, anxious to make an offer to any users who are unconvinced by Vogt's and Stroup's assurances. "It's a good time for Trapeze customers and partners to seriously look at multi-vendor management platforms to protect their investment going forward," said Roger Hockaday of Aruba, suggesting that Trapeze customers might be able to migrate while still using existing access points, thanks to abilities which Aruba has, following its acquisition of multi-vendor Wi-Fi company AirWave earlier in 2008. Airwave's AMP has been suggested before, as a means to incorporate Cisco APs.
Aruba's AMP division has made an offer of "preferential terms" to Cisco customers, or customers of its OEM partners 3Com, Enterasys and Nortel, who migrated to the AMP platform. "Experience tells us that when wireless hardware vendors are acquired, or when OEM relationships change, customers may have reason to be concerned about product discontinuations, restrictive support policies, and service interruptions," said Greg Murphy, AMP Solutions' general manager. "Whether they continue forward with their current hardware provider or consider an alternate solution, customers can rely on AMP Solutions' best-in-class management tool and the rock-solid backing of our support and development organisations."
Meru has been quiet so far. Like any company, it would presumably be available for sale at an appropriate price. Its revenue is around $40 million.
What about the price?
The price might cause some more discussion. The price is nearly 2.5 times Trapeze's $56 million in sales over the last year. Aruba, the only wireless LAN company to have floated on the stock exchange is currently worth around $460 million, with about $160 million a year in revenue - that works out at a valuation of around 2.9 times its revenue.
Both figures sound low, compared with the $500 Cisco paid for Airespace four years ago, when turnovers in enterprise WLAN were tiny.
The valuations reflect current depression of the stock market, and possibly, a tougher market for raising cash. Commentators from other companies exaggerated, describing $133 million for Trapeze as a "firesale", and suggesting that other companies, including Meru, Colubris and Extricom would have to follow a similar route.
There's also a perception that Trapeze has been struggling - at least in terms of reaching customers. "People have been picking other suppliers largely because Trapeze does not have the market access model that someone like Cisco would have," said the Belden executive.