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While Hewlett-Packard has certainly become a lot more serious about networking ever since Cisco invaded the server category, wireless networking has always been a major hole in its portfolio.

This week, HP moved to rectify that oversight via the acquisition of Aruba Networks for $3 billion. For HP partners, the significance of this acquisition goes well beyond the ability to sell wireless access points and controllers. Wireless networks have quickly become the primary network of choice for most end users.

As such, IT organizations are not only upgrading the secondary wireless network they deployed a few years ago as something of a guest network, increased traffic from all those devices is creating demand for faster servers and network infrastructure. Without Aruba Networks or some equivalent on its line card, HP and its partners were missing a critical component that drives a lot of additional upgrade opportunities across the enterprise.

While Aruba Networks has primarily focused on the enterprise, the HP acquisition represents an opportunity to push Aruba wireless technology more aggressively into a small and midsize enterprise (SME) space that the company currently has little presence in, said Greg Murphy, Aruba vice president of business operations.

Naturally, a big part of that push will revolve around the Aruba 7000 Cloud Services Controllers announced at the Atmosphere 2015 partner conference that collapse multiple networking appliances found in campus networks into a single device. As more network management gets pushed into the cloud, networking technology becomes more accessible to a broader range of customers and partners alike.

It may take some time for the various programs that will be required to bring the Aruba Networks networking portfolio into the HP channel. But given the demand for wireless networking at the moment, the chances are good that a lot of HP channel partners are not going to be waiting for the ink to dry on this deal before adding Aruba Networks to their line cards.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.