SpiderCloud Claims Nokia as Partner; Nokia Disagrees. In This Public Spat, Neither Company Wins.

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

• SpiderCloud’s CEO recently claimed Nokia as a reseller partner along with Cisco and NEC

• Nokia disputed this characterization, saying the arrangement was specific to a single operator engagement

If you ended up confused this week about whether or not SpiderCloud Wireless and Nokia Networks are partners, you’re not alone.

In an interview with news publication Light Reading, SpiderCloud Wireless CEO Mike Gallagher claimed a partnership with Nokia Networks wherein Nokia had been reselling SpiderCloud’s multi-mode 3G/4G enterprise small-cell solutions since February. Nokia responded by publicly denying any partnership between the two firms, adding that Nokia had supplied SpiderCloud’s solutions to a single specific customer and citing confidentiality agreements with the customer that prevent any further disclosure on the matter. A few tense online comments were exchanged.

If you reacted to all this by thinking, “Gee, these two don’t seem much like partners,” you weren’t alone in that, either.

Part of this squabble appears semantic; Nokia rejects the term “partnership” to describe the arrangement, and SpiderCloud hasn’t refuted Nokia’s key justification for rejecting the term – namely, that the activity in question pertains only to a single operator customer. But a few other facts are relevant:

• Nokia’s Flexi Zone Indoor Controller became generally available this month, enabling a distributed indoor enterprise small-cell solution that represents a new direct competitor to SpiderCloud’s E-RAN. So Nokia has good reason to want to avoid confusion on this topic.

• SpiderCloud may point to its relationships with Cisco and NEC as a way to bolster validation for its solution beyond any operator references or engagements. This is effective partly because Cisco and NEC, neither of which have an in-house solution that competes with SpiderCloud, have been eager promoters of the relationship. Promoting a relationship that is disputed by the other party doesn’t do as much to bolster validation.

• SpiderCloud has made waves in the past with an edgy, sometimes confrontational style in its messaging. It can be entertaining, and successfully attention-getting, when it’s aimed at competitors. And SpiderCloud and Nokia are indeed competitors. But because SpiderCloud was promoting what it called a partner, the discordant nature of this week’s exchange is a bit riskier, potentially inviting questions about how well SpiderCloud works with partners in general.

This particular episode is likely to fade away quickly. But as Nokia ramps up efforts to push its newly available Flexi Zone Controller for medium and large enterprises, don’t be surprised if tension resurfaces. If history is any guide, Nokia may well end up on the receiving end of the same kind of jabs and barbs SpiderCloud has been hurling publicly at Ericsson for some time now. (After all, before they were partners, SpiderCloud was casting aspersions on Cisco’s small cell strategy; so the start-up has some experience in navigating the sometimes fast-changing roles of collaborators and competitors.)

Were this week’s moves meant as an opening salvo in such efforts? Only SpiderCloud knows for sure.


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