Cabletron has made a tacit admission that it has lost the network hardware battle, and has pinned its hopes on software and services.
Chris Gabriel, Cabletron marketing manager, said the company is redefining itself as a business communications company rather than a traditional networking company.
"If you're a networking company producing tin, professional services doesn't mean that much," said Gabriel. "It's not all about speeds and feeds, but about how applications and data are linked to provide functions like network accounting."
Cabletron has seen a significant revenue shift from shared access to switched technologies. Two years ago, hubs accounted for around 70 per cent of the company's business, but today it is less than 15 per cent, with switching representing more than half.
Analyst Peter Crowcombe, of Spikes Cavell, said that Cabletron users faced a process of migration because it had not innovated fast enough to move from its heritage as a hub and switch vendor.
Gabriel explained that Cabletron's new software business unit is being built on the company's Spectrum network management platform. Spectrum will be provided with interfaces and services so that it can manage the fibre-optic backbone of telecom service providers and PBXs, he explained.
But Brian Collins, information services manager at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), said he had to wait months to get the firmware upgrades and software it needed to manage its SmartSwitch router-based Gigabit Ethernet network.
"Cabletron needs to first concentrate on managing Cabletron products rather than anything else," said Collins. "The SmartSwitch router is a good product but software is lagging behind."
The RCS has had to wait since last summer for firmware upgrades and software for its Spectrum management suite so that it could implement resilience and set up redundant links.
Mitul Mehta, senior European research manager at analysts Frost & Sullivan, said Cabletron had lost focus. "Spectrum needs a lot more to be an end-to-end solution, Cabletron needs to make alliances in the enterprise like its competitors such as Cisco," he said.
In addition to the software products that will provide service offerings, Cabletron plans to introduce edge products such as a voice-over-IP (VoIP) gateway, directory products and IPsec-compliant VPN routers.
For more stories see 17 March issue of Network News UK
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