The more things change . . .

The more things change . . .

It's often said that the networking marketplace is going through a period of consolidation. The theory contends that there is only so much business to be won, and thus only so many companies will be able to reach the critical mass required to keep them out of the ranks of the potential takeover targets.

This theory has been around for well over a year now. In some ways it has proven itself correct, in others it hasn't.

In recent times we've seen Cisco devouring what-ever it needs. 3Com is about to commence digesting US Robotics, and now Ascend Communications must come to grips with its impending merger with Cascade Communications.

While these moves may represent the consolidation many analysts are talking about, at the same time there are just as many new players to fill the gaps. Names like Agile, Ipsilon, FORE Systems, Securicor 3net and Xylan spring to mind as players that had minimal market exposure only a year ago, but are rapidly growing in stature.

Then there are the non-networking companies eager for a piece of the action, primarily Compaq and Intel. While neither of these companies has a proven networking track record to compare with the likes of Cisco or Bay, they do have the critical mass to make their presence a serious one.

So, while it's true that the number of companies is decreasing as mergers and acquisitions take their toll, there is no loss in the diversity of solutions available.

What could be an accurate statement about the networking marketplace is this - it offers resellers two types of choice.

Firstly, those companies who have been on acquisition sprees can now offer one stop shopping for end-to-end solutions.

And secondly, the continual emergence of new companies guarantees there is always somewhere else to look when the usual offerings fail to measure up.

In last issue's column I incorrectly reported that Tech Pacific was rated as Cisco's largest distributor. While Tech Pacific is by far the largest distributor Cisco deals with in Australia, LAN Systems is its largest product distributor, followed by Express Data. Sorry for the confusion.

Brad Howarth

Tel (02) 9902 2748

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