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IBM's WLAN Two-fer

Aruba Wireless Networks says that it is still working with IBM Global Services, even though Big Blue is also in bed with its wireless switch rival Airespace Inc.

Aruba has been talking about an IBM deal since it went public with a similar deal with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) earlier this summer (see Aruba Confirms Service Plan).

But nothing official has been announced yet, and Aruba isn't filling in many details about a potential partnership.

"IBM has many interests relative to wireless, from security to location services," says David Callisch, communications director at the startup. "While Aruba cannot comment on the scope and breadth of our relationship, we can say that there is scope and breadth to our relationship." Rival Airespace is also being cagey about the details of its relationship with IBM's service arm (see Airespace Services IBM). The firm was going to talk to Unstrung about the partnership last week, but backed out at the last minute.

IBM hadn't replied to calls for comment by press time.

So, what's going on here? Well, informed sources say that Aruba has been working with IBM on a wireless intrusion detection system for a while now, but nothing is set in stone yet.

Before it clammed up, Airespace was hinting that IBM was interested in using its gear for location-based services, among other things.

Of course, it wouldn't be particularly unusual if IBM ended up signing up multiple partners as it adds more wireless LAN capabilities to its services portfolio.

HP, which is on a similar WiFi services drive, is using gear sourced from Aruba and security startup Vernier Networks Inc., among others (see HP's Security Badge ).

Whatever happens, it appears that IBM is firmly planting a big boot into the world of managed enterprise wireless networking.

"Rest assured, IBM will be a big player in wireless," says Aruba's Callisch. "They've told us so."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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