Competition heats up for remote access

Competition heats up for remote access

Large networking vendors are eager to steal market share in the remote access arena from Shiva, as reflected in Cisco Systems' acquisition last month of Telebit, a manufacturer of modems and ISDN devices.

But as a pioneer in the market, and still the dominant player, Shiva doesn't plan to cede sales without a fight.

As remote access evolves from a niche technology for a few users to a critical requirement for mainstream applications, large LAN/WAN vendors such as Cisco and 3Com have expanded their offerings out from the centre of the enterprise, said Bobbi Murphy, an analyst at Dataquest.

For example, Cisco plans to integrate Telebit's ISDN modem technology into its 2,500 departmental access servers and the AS5200 series Universal Access Server. Cisco officials said that, with the Telebit technology, the servers will be capable of taking in both analog and ISDN calls, automatically sensing the type of connection.

To compete with such offerings, Shiva is having to work to deliver more scalable and sophisticated hardware. But the company is also counting on its long-standing reputation to maintain a hold in the marketplace.

Shiva first began shipping remote access products in 1987 and currently holds a commanding share of the market for remote access servers, which host low-speed connections for telecommuters, small offices, and users on the road.

The flagship of the company's server products is the LANRover Access Switch, introduced this year, which supports more than 100 simultaneous calls. Shiva also makes client software for remote PCs and recently began shipping its AccessPort ISDN client router.

Users and analysts say years of experience give Shiva an edge in its core technology. In addition, Shiva was among the first companies to support Novell's IPX, Apple Computer's AppleTalk, and the dial-up component built into Microsoft's Windows 95.

One user praised a Shiva dial-out client for Windows 95 that allows users at a central office to dial out through a LANRover without the need for a separate modem and analog line at their desks.

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