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HPE ups SD-WAN chops with Silver Peak acquisition

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Silver Peak acquisition could significantly improve the software-defined WAN offering that's available today in HPE's Aruba-branded network portfolio.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise's acquisition of Silver Peak may appeal to technology shoppers that want a better software-defined WAN than what HPE currently offers, according to analysts.

HPE announced Monday that it would acquire Silver Peak for $925 million in cash. The company expected to close the transaction by the end of October and fold the SD-WAN maker into HPE's Aruba Networks subsidiary. Aruba provides switches, management software and security for the wired and wireless LAN (WLAN).

The Silver Peak acquisition provides financial benefits for both companies. Still, for tech buyers interested in HPE Aruba, the most significant attraction is the Silver Peak SD-WAN. The technology used to connect campuses and corporate branch offices to cloud-based applications contains many more advanced features than the software Aruba has today.

"It lacks some of the advanced SD-WAN capabilities that truly facilitate a high-performing hybrid WAN," said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.

A hybrid WAN sends network traffic over two or more connection types across private and public domains. The connections include wired broadband, Multiprotocol Label Switching circuits, and 4G or 5G wireless broadband.

What Aruba lacks

Today, Aruba's SD-WAN lacks advanced features that include forward error correction, tunnel bonding and WAN optimization, all of which are in the Silver Peak product, McGillicuddy said. Also, Silver Peak contains features for improving traffic flows to specific business applications.

"This gives it an edge in application quality-of-service capabilities," McGillicuddy said.

Aruba's portfolio would plug holes in the Silver Peak SD-WAN. They include a lack of advanced security and integrated Wi-Fi, according to Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure. Silver Peak shared the leader quadrant in the November 2019 report with VMware.

Within a few months after the deal closes, HPE Aruba plans to integrate Silver Peak into its cloud-based network management console, called Central, HPE executives said. Central is the customer interface for managing and troubleshooting an Aruba wired and WLAN. However, the software is also becoming the hub for controlling connections between corporate offices and cloud-based applications.

"Key to accelerating adoption will be how quickly they can integrate Silver Peak into Aruba Central," said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

While HPE gets badly needed technology from Silver Peak, the latter will get access to HPE's international sales operation. According to IDC, the majority of Silver Peak's 1,500 enterprise SD-WAN customers are in North America, which accounts for roughly half of the global market. However, the European and Asian markets are growing at a faster rate.

IDC predicts that global sales of SD-WAN infrastructure will reach $5.25 billion by 2023, compared with $1.4 billion in 2018. Over the years, the SD-WAN market has transitioned from a collection of startups to include multibillion-dollar tech vendors Cisco, Huawei, Juniper Networks, Oracle and VMware.

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