Optical/IP Networks

LeBeau Dons Aruba Crown

As expected, wireless switch startup Aruba Wireless Networks has hired former Cisco executive Don LeBeau as its new CEO after a lengthy search for a suitably heavyweight replacement for its current, interim, leader Pankaj Manglik.

Unstrung exclusively revealed that Aruba was courting LeBeau for the CEO spot back in November, after months of talking to potential candidates (see Aruba to 'Don' LeBeau? and S.Lo No Go as Aruba CEO).

LeBeau told Unstrung last week that he found the Aruba job compelling because it represents "the intersection of wireless and security," which he says are the two hottest sectors in the IT world at the moment.

Still, LeBeau and the crew are planning to broaden Aruba's focus beyond the heavy emphasis on security that the company has had since its launch in January 2003 (see Aruba's Switch Pitch).

"WiFi is actually a lot more like a transport layer, and what really becomes important is what applications can be run [over it]," LaBeau says. "Just building a WiFi network is like building an antenna without building the TV."

Keerti Melkote, VP of product management and marketing for Aruba, says that voice-over-WLAN (VOWLAN) will be one of the major focuses of application work for this year. The company is also looking at radio frequency ID (RFID) systems and other services that help to locate users or assets on a WLAN network as potential growth areas.

Naturally, the company plans to continue building on the security software it has already built around its platform. Melkote says that one of the growing security problems Aruba is already looking at is the proliferation of many more "promiscuous" WLAN devices (mobile phones, "smart" ID tags, VOWLAN badges, as well as the more common laptops and handhelds) that could have connected to any old public or private network and picked up any number of viruses before connecting with an Aruba network.

The firm is looking at developing ever-more sophisticated virus scanning and blocking mechanisms –- particularly for devices that may be too small and memory-constrained to run such software themselves –- so that the Aruba software would function as an electronic prophylactic against wirelessly transmitted diseases (see War on Wireless Worms and Aruba's New Air Style) With all this work on software applications, Unstrung had to wonder if this means that Aruba is following companies like Roving Planet Inc. and attempting to get out of the wireless LAN hardware business altogether (see Roving Planet Rakes In $9.5M).

LeBeau doesn't think so, saying that the company still needs a hardware platform on which to build the WLAN applications.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

Sign In