HP completes integration of key wireless acquisition

Hewlett-Packard is ready to start punching against all wireless enterprise heavyweights now that the integration of products from its acquisition of Colubris Networks is complete.

The access points, bridges and multiservice controllers that had carried the Colubris name will sport the HP ProCurve Mobility brand starting Dec. 1, the company announced Monday.

In addition, there’s an upcoming new product, the MSM410 single radio, a WiFi access point which uses the 802.11n specification. This $649 model, which had been under development by Colubris before the acquisition of the Massachusetts company was announced in August, will be added to the lineup in January.

While ProCurve had some wireless LAN products, they were limited to the WiFi a/b/g bands. It offered nothing in the emerging ‘n’ band, which offers a significant boost in speed.

Although the IEEE hasn’t certified the ‘n’ standard, manufacturers believe the draft standard is close enough to have started producing access points for some months. Laptop makers – ironically, including HP – have been offering 802.11n-capable machines for the last 12 months.

“It’s going to give us access to markets and verticals we traditionally didn’t play in – hospitality, transportation and manufacturing,” said Corey Copping, HP Canada’s product marketing manager, said in an interview.

Not only will the former Colubris hardware and management software have HP logos, HP’s ProCurve Manager software has been modified to automatically detect and accept the former Colubris gear. Among the other benefits customers get from the deal is that former Colubris indoor access points will be covered by HP’s lifetime warranty.

At the time the deal was announced industry analysts said the move made a lot of sense by plugging a big hole in its lineup. For Colubris resellers, the benefit is being able to come under the HP umbrella and access to its wireline products.

To make sure HP and ex-Colubris partners are well-briefed on the line, HP will offer Webinars and online training, as well as run roadshows in up to seven Canadian cities starting this month. There are somewhere between 50 and 60 Colubris channel partners in Canada, half of which were HP partners.

One of them is Montreal-based Intello Technologies, whose products include the i-Hotel software suite for running wireless LANs in the hospitality industry. Sylvain Boudreau, senior director of Intello’s hospitality industry practice, was brought by HP to enthuse about the deal to Canadian technology reporters.

The Colubris purchase by HP “is excellent news for us as a reseller,” he said. “We’ve seen Colubris over the years investing a lot of money in R&D. Now with the acquisition it gives us an opportunity to have access to additional product lines, additional equipment and perhaps enter new markets.” Founded in 2003, Intello developed i-Hotel as a secured wireless Internet solution for public buildings such as hotels, conference centres and apartment buildings.

“We had to find [wireless] equipment that would compliment our software, and the reason why we chose Colubris was primarily security – client to client blocking, and so many of the features they were offering, which is critical to our success.” He estimates i-Hotel/Colubris solutions are in 400 hotels around the world.

Among the acquisition’s benefits to resellers and customers is the creation of a Canadian price list, which didn’t exist before. Instead, prices were based on the U.S. list and converted to Canadian dollars.

Although economic conditions are dicey, Copping insisted that demand for enterprise wireless “remains strong.” HP expects it will grow at least 25 per cent next year over 2008, Copping added, which is part of the reason it bought Colubris.

“Everywhere you go everybody is using it or migrating to it. ‘N’ remains top of people’s minds because of the bandwidth.”

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