5 important networking acquisitions of 2015

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The networking industry, like any industry that has been around for so long, always seems to be in the midst of consolidations. Larger vendors frequently purchase smaller companies, beefing up specific capabilities to address enterprise customer needs or buying their way into emerging markets.

Naturally, 2015 was no different, and here are five of the most important networking acquisitions of the year:

  • HP acquires Aruba Networks. HP (now HPE) inked a deal earlier this year to bolster its struggling wireless networking business. With a boatload of cash and a few signatures, HP bought its way into second place in a space it had previously failed to gain any significant traction in. Now, HP's historical record for acquisitions is somewhat spotty, but as we round out 2015, things are looking good for HPE in the Wi-Fi space.

  • Cisco acquires Lancope and OpenDNS. Cisco has long focused on beefing up its security products, but it's usually overshadowed by vendors who specialize in such technologies. Over the years, Cisco has acquired several networking security vendors, and in 2015, the company once again bolstered its security portfolio by acquiring both OpenDNS and Lancope. Security is an area that CEO Chuck Robbins has indicated as a priority, and it's a good thing.

  • Nokia acquires Alcatel-Lucent. Mobile equipment manufacturer Nokia beefed up its service provider networking capabilities with the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. In what was quite a pricey buy, Nokia also essentially bought its way into the enterprise networking space.

  • Cisco acquires Embrane. As software-defined networking becomes of greater interest to enterprise companies, Cisco is hoping to lean on its leadership position in networking to capture what is an emerging market. And in true Cisco fashion, it's not only investing in R&D, but also in acquiring those it sees as innovators. Cisco first invested cash into Embrane in 2014, but then in April, it laid out enough coin to purchase the SDN vendor entirely. Embrane is complementary to Cisco's previous purchase of Insieme; and it's within the Insieme business unit that Embrane now finds itself.

  • HP acquires ConteXtream. And in another example of buying SDN capabilities, HP bolstered its position in the OpenDaylight-focused SDN market with the May purchase of ConteXtream. HP (and now HPE) is taking a different tact to earning market dollars than rival Cisco, and although there is significant interest in open networking, it's still unclear how the enterprise market will shake out. But if enterprises do make future investments in open networking products, it seems like HPE is going to be one of the key vendors in the space.

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HP aims to boost wireless portfolio with Aruba buy