Network integrator NetStar Networks is looking to school its rivals in IP telephony after securing a highly sought after contract to implement an 11,000-seat IP network in a Melbourne university.
The company stands to generate in excess of $8-10 million over two to four years from the deal, migrating Swinburne University of Technology's existing ATM backbone to gigabit Ethernet on its six Victorian campuses.
NetStar outbid rivals Com Tech and NEC for what was possibly the biggest education contract on offer in a 12-month period, according to some industry pundits. It has been a tough market in recent months and Michael Burt, NetStar business development manager, said the win bolsters the reseller's growth in the face of a market slowdown.
"That's why everyone was so keen to win this one," Burt added.
The IP-based network is being designed to provide 10/100 Mbps voice, video and data connectivity to more than 45,000 students and 4500 staff. The majority of the network will be based on Cisco Systems' products under its Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) solutions set.
Initially NetStar will provide two Cisco Catalyst 8500 switches and nine 6500 switches as the platform for Swinburne's LAN by July. This will be backed up with more than 45 Catalyst 4006s and 190 Catalyst 3500s, NetStar officials said.
NetStar has worked with Swinburne University in the past and Burt claims the reseller's experience in voice-over-IP won out on the day.
"There were a few things that differentiated us, but I think it was our runs on the board with voice-over-IP and our ability to show the benefits to the customer that [won it]," claimed Burt.
He is optimistic about follow-on projects that will result from the initial bid, such as the implementation of a metropolitan area network linking Swinburne's campuses around the Asia-Pacific region under the University's Information Technology Enhancement Strategy (SITES).
Swinburne vice-chancellor Iain Wallace said, "We will also develop a student/client resource management application which will enhance the student experience from a technological and customer service point of view".
Cisco slashes workforce
In other related news, Cisco Systems has announced plans to slash 8000 jobs worldwide in a bid to bolster a faltering share price.
Although the location and nature of the job cuts are the subject of some confusion, a total of 8000 lay-offs would represent around 17 per cent of its 48,000-strong international workforce.
However, Cisco CEO and chairman John Chambers said the cuts would include 2500 to 3000 temporary contract workers and between 3000 and 5000 regular employees.
Cisco officials said the company anticipates the cutbacks will generate a one-time charge of between $US300 million and $400 million by the end of the fourth quarter.
Terry Walsh, managing director of Cisco Systems Australia and New Zealand, had received little information on how the cuts would affect Cisco's Australian operations at the time of press.
However he did venture to state that Cisco automatically turns over around 5 per cent of its staff in a 12-month period. With this in mind, he suggests the cuts may appear more drastic than they actually are.
Facing a continuing market slowdown, Walsh agreed the cuts would see Cisco place more emphasis on using its channel as its sales force.
"When the pressure is on more than ever we have to rely on our channel, and being a strong and profitable partner for them to deal with," said Walsh.Photograph: Terry Walsh, managing director Cisco Australia & NZ