Enterasys Networks has plucked a $4.5 million tender out of a flat market to roll out Ernst & Young's new nationwide network, ahead of arch-rival Cisco Systems.
Enterasys, which recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, lost the tender for the original network to Cisco in 1997-98.
"There's not many new business opportunities like this," said Ian Fewtrell, managing director for Enterasys Australia/New Zealand. "So if we're winning deals like this in what's talked about as a downturn in the market, then when the market picks up we'll not only have our existing customers but new blue-chip accounts as well."
The deal is also a big win for Infonet Controlling Services Australia, an Enterasys channel partner, which will conduct the rollout.
The Cisco rollout of Ernst & Young's initial network three years ago has reached the end of its life cycle and needs to be replaced. Both Cisco and Enterasys bid for the new network, the tender for which was announced earlier this year.
Cisco pitched for the tender with systems integrator Logical. Stuart Hendry, Logical's managing director was unavailable on Friday for comment.
Fewtrell described the win as a manifestation of the vendor's concerted effort to secure high-profile customers. "This effectively was the return match [with Cisco]," he said, in an exclusive interview with ARN last week.
However, Kurt Hansen, a sales director at Cisco, downplayed the loss to Enterasys. He also dismissed the figure ARN understood to be the street value of the deal, saying it was more in the vicinity of $200,000-$300,000, with a three-year maintenance contract on top.
"Players like Enterasys are extremely desperate right now to book any business at all," Hansen said. "This was for LAN switching, right? Ernst & Young wouldn't have that many employees [to justify $4.5 million worth of product]."
The upgrade involves a complete overhaul of Ernst & Young's network from switches to the desktop as well as fitting out notebooks used by 1,200 Ernst & Young auditors with Enterasys wireless network interface cards.
Steven Arnold, Ernst & Young's chief information officer, could not be contacted at press time, while other Cisco officials were also unavailable for comment.