Cabletron Systems spins off software unit

Cabletron Systems spins off software unit

Cabletron Systems last week cut many of the ties that bound its software and hardware divisions by spinning off the unit that develops its Spectrum network management software.

Spectrum users can expect support to continue as before, but integration of the tools with hardware from other network vendors should improve, said Cabletron executive vice president Michael Skubisz, who will head the new entity, to be called Spectrum.

New Hampshire-based Spectrum will work more closely with network hardware vendors "that have traditionally been Cabletron competitors", Skubisz said.

That was welcome news to Daniel Speers, senior network engineer at Jefferies & Co in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a user of Spectrum Enterprise Manager, Cabletron's high-end network management tool.

"Although software from other vendors fits in very nicely [with Spectrum Enterprise Manager], my biggest complaint has been that the competition between Cisco and Cabletron meant that Spectrum's integration with Cisco hardware wasn't as good as it could be," Speers said.

For example, Spectrum has management models for Cabletron's SmartSwitch routers and Cisco Systems' Catalyst switches, he said, "but it took a long time for them to come out with the one for the Catalyst". Speers said what he hopes to see is "the ability to manage [other vendors'] hardware along about the time the hardware becomes available".

He has reason to hope, according to Elisabeth Rainge, an analyst at International Data Corp. Users should feel reassured, she said, because although Spectrum has been a technically strong product, the split will open doors to improve integration with a greater range of hardware.

"A management software company should be agnostic when it comes to hardware -- a model of cooperation," Rainge said.

Development of the Spectrum tools will focus on modelling the desired performance of network hardware and warehousing network management data such as the amount of data transferred and the number of collisions and errors, Skubisz said.

The split is Cabletron's latest move to staunch the flow of red ink. The company posted losses of $US22.5 million for the quarter ended May 31, compared with losses of $US154.6 million in the same quarter last year.

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