In an effort to appear focused during a time of financial uncertainty, Cabletron Systems officials last week disclosed the company's technical direction for the year.
The company is attempting to more closely align its product development efforts with customers' business objectives, such as tracking the cost of IT ownership. Cabletron's plan addresses service providers as well as existing government and enterprise accounts, and emphasises software and professional services.
Cabletron's Spectrum network management software, which has been lauded by industry pundits for its technical sophistication, could be the company's crown jewel. Spectrum development is "the most important thing we're doing right now", says Michael Skubisz, Cabletron's chief technology officer.
Cabletron is looking to get back on track after several money-losing quarters. Analysts and other observers have gone as far as to call for a change of leadership at the company and have questioned whether Cabletron can be a significant player in the future.
Skubisz admits Cabletron's been doing some "soul searching" for the past nine months.
"Our product line is healthy, but the issue that plagues us now is that we haven't been focused over the past couple of years," he says.
The soul searching resulted in a technical focus on:
Directory, policy and accounting servicesVoice over IP and convergenceVirtual private networksIP MulticastService-level managementEmerging transport technologiesCabletron's directory services are an outgrowth of the company's SecureFast Virtual Networking Services software, which has been around for approximately five years. Cabletron has installed about 10 million directory-enabled switch ports at 3000 customer sites, Skubisz claims.
Cabletron plans to tightly integrate its directory with its Spectrum management platform and with network operating systems such as Novell's NetWare.
Cabletron will demonstrate interoperability between Spectrum and Novell Directory Services (NDS) at Novell's BrainShare conference in two weeks.
"This is a match made in heaven, NDS and Spectrum," says Laura DiDio, a senior analyst at Giga Information Group in Massachusetts. "This could be DEN without Microsoft and Cisco."
DEN is the Directory-Enabled Networking initiative kicked off by Microsoft and Cisco three years ago. It seeks to add intelligence to network devices by having them respond to and enforce network access policies.