The recent replacement of Cabletron Systems co-founder, CEO and chairman Craig Benson with technology guru Piyush Patel marked a shift by the New Hampshire company - which, with poor financial results, has seen its stock price halved and then some during the past two years - to a more aggressive focus on emerging technologies. Patel, 43, was the CEO of start-up Yago Systems and the brains behind its Layer 3 device - a switch that also performs high-speed routing. Since Cabletron bought Yago in January 1998, the device has become the hottest product in Cabletron's 16-year history.
Patel recently spoke with IDG's Bob Wallace.
What markets and technologies do you see poised for the greatest growth?
We want to focus more and more on products for cable operators, the xDSL market and pushing our routing switch, which has caching and load balancing as a package with servers for Web-hosting operations.
Why do you think you're replacing Benson?
Craig is definitely on top of things, but with our success in Layer 3 [routing switches], he wanted to take the same energies and use them to drive other areas like Spectrum [network management], regular switching and service provider products.
You've said you want to increase the focus on service providers. What does this mean to corporate users?
On the enterprise side, we fully plan on increasing our market presence. Our commitment will increase as we spend more aggressively in this area. It's our stronghold, and we will protect it.
What can you do with technology to improve enterprise products?
We'll be spending big in applying technology to increase . . . feeds and speeds on enterprise products, which will translate into lower prices.
What are the enterprise networking areas you're focusing most on?
Quality of service and policy-based management. The next big area for users will be supporting guaranteed quality for voice and video applications from the desktop to the [data centre]. The ability to set policies [for network usage] is another key area.
Will Cabletron still be known first as an equipment vendor?
A lot of work in the past has been on the hardware side, but we're looking to expand in network management software and professional services. We'll look for partners to develop applications to sit atop Spectrum and are considering either acquiring or taking a large equity stake in a professional services company.
What can you do to build your presence in the emerging converged voice/data market?
In the voice area, we will look to partner with large telecom companies to gain expertise on [traditional private branch exchanges] and their control software, while looking closely at promising start-ups for innovation.