It is rare for a company to tell you it will grow from zero to number three in a given market within two years, and you'd probably dismiss it if it did. But when that company happens to be the world's number one PC company, you might be inclined to listen.
Compaq has made no secret of its intention to be the world's number three global IT company by 2000. Along the way it intends to become number three in the networking industry by 1998.
To label this desire as ambitious is an understatement. Compaq is not coming into a virgin market. It has to achieve this growth in competition with a plethora of established companies, a host of up-and-comers and numerous specialist players. Expect to see some acquisitions.
When Compaq went from number three in PCs in 1991 to number one in 1994, it did so in a market it knew backwards - this cannot be said to be the case with networking.
Two things Compaq has on its side are its name and its channel. The Compaq name is associated with reliability, and its channel has been the principal vehicle in its sales mechanism. But those partners that also work in the networking sector are already aligned with at least one networking vendor. Prising them away from those relationships will not be easy.
Compaq says it will win sites with reliable products at a good price, and those it acquired from Thomas-Conrad and NetWorth last year as well as its own development work has produced a capable product set.
There is no doubting Compaq's will to meet its goals - the interesting part will be how it gets there.