Gartner Confirms Aruba has the Magic Touch

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Last week Gartner muttered the word "Abracadabra," and with a flash of light and a puff of smoke, the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure appeared. And it was magical. Well, sort of.

You see, magic is a funny thing. A smart person once said, "One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering."

I personally experienced a disconnect between engineering and magic when trying the old tablecloth trick a few years back at a dinner party. Hint: The laws of physics still apply, even when you use magic words and enormous charisma.

Likewise, there's a bit of engineering that goes into the Magic Quadrant. Surveys, technology demos, customer references, fact checks, caffeine, cursing, and so on. It's the mostly boring and nerdy stuff that makes the magic really pop.

At Aruba, you could hear the collective exhale when it was finally published. Aruba placed in the Leader's quadrant. Again. For the ninth consecutive year (that's three years as Leader in the Wired and Wireless Infrastructure Magic Quadrant and six years as Leader in the Wireless LAN Magic Quadrant that preceded it).

And it gets better. Here are some of the ways Gartner described Aruba:

  •   "…well thought-out architecture…"
  •   "Enterprises should consider Aruba for all WLAN deployments…"
  •   "…high degree of satisfaction with Aruba's ClearPass…"
  •   "…simplifies orchestration within multivendor environments…"

What's that, you say? Where's the magic in all this? Well, the "magic" is in what you don't see. It's what lies between the lines. It's the relative positions of each vendor, it's the commentary that Gartner insists isn't there.

Here's what I mean:

  1. Vendors did the disappearing act – Why are they gone? Were they banished to a parallel universe? Or beaten senseless in an elevator by Beyoncé's sister? Not really. It's just Gartner's version of tough love. Maybe they didn't make the new revenue requirements. Or maybe they don't have the whole solution. For various reasons, they were cast aside.
  2. Pay no attention to the empty quadrant in the top left – For the first time that I can recall, there are NO vendors in the challenger category. None. Instead, the majority were moved to the "Niche Players" category. Other synonyms for "niche?" Crevice, alcove, hollow, indentation, hole. Flattering words, no?
  3. The vendor landscape was sawed in two – There is a very clear dividing line now between Aruba and Cisco and the rest of the bunch.

The takeaway? From what I can gather, Gartner has positioned Aruba as the primary challenger to the behemoth that is Cisco Systems.

And that's today. Now look at the way things are going: All-wireless workplaces, BYOD, the Internet of Things, wearables. As the world goes mobile and emphasis is placed on wireless, that's when Aruba really jumps in the drivers seat.

The reality is, every major switching vendor except Cisco has now chosen to OEM or partner with Aruba for its Wi-Fi offering. Wi-Fi that works well in today's enterprise isn't easy to come by. And Aruba is now the rabbit's foot that everyone wants to use to break Cisco's vendor lock-in and create a best-of-breed multivendor environment.

There's another tough problem: Network security isn't easy in a mobile world. It's another reason why most of these switching vendors have also chosen to market Aruba's ClearPass Access Management System. As fate would have it, ClearPass is in the Leader's quadrant in Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for Network Access Control as well.

For Aruba, this year's Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure is awesome recognition. It acknowledges the occurrence of a huge disruption in the industry. And it shows that Aruba is nicely positioned to release Cisco's stranglehold on their customers.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is more than just a parlor trick. I give the authors a ton of credit. It's designed with a healthy degree of engineering that makes it the de facto standard for measuring vendors in the wired and wireless space.