HPE drops private 5G into GreenLake by acquiring Athonet

Wi-Fi not? It boosts Aruba's portfolio, single wireless nets are a way off, and everything-as-a-service is hot right now

HPE announced on Friday it has acquired an Italian outfit called Athonet that specializes in private 4G and 5G cellular networks.

Terms of the deal were not revealed, but its intentions were: Athonet will be added to the GreenLake IT-as-a-service offering, meaning the jolly green IT giant can build and operate private cellular networks and generate rolling revenue.

Athonet makes network cores it says are "open to any application, open to any architecture, open to any radio, open with APIs," and boasts over 400 customers.

"HPE will integrate Athonet's technology into its existing enabling communications service providers (CSPs) and Aruba networking enterprise offerings to create a private networking portfolio that accelerates digital transformation from edge-to-cloud," states HPE's announcement of the deal.

HPE believes telco and enterprise customers will both appreciate Athonet's offerings.

The Athonet deal is related to an HPE announcement in 2022 of a private 5G service delivered through GreenLake. That offering uses HPE's own 5G software running on "Edgeline Converged Edge systems" – that's HPE-speak for rugged servers that can handle software-defined storage – and promises "seamless interworking across both private 5G and Wi-Fi."

Such seamlessness – pardon us the fecklessness of that word – is prized because, while the idea of moving an enterprise to 5G for all its private networking needs is possible, it's seldom feasible. Organizations therefore fear operating two wireless networks, each siloed, and wearing complications as a result.

If HPE can nail smooth side by side operations, customers will enjoy doing business with it.

Only this week, HPE rival Dell inked an agreement with Athonet to sell its private wireless in a box product to small biz customers. HPE's intention to buy Athonet casts a different light on Dell's deal and may mean it is raghert short lived.

HPE's purchase of Athonet is expected to close in Q3 of HPE's 2023 financial year, which last year fell on July 31.

HPE is far from alone in private 5G. Cisco is there already, while AWS and Azure also offer services to manage such networks. ®

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