Digital Networks back with new LAN products

A new network equipment company recently emerged with a familiar name, an old logo and two new products for corporate network customers.

On Sept. 28, the former Digital Network Products Group (DNPG) was re-launched as Digital Networks. The new, privately held company in Andover, Mass. will support and sell the DNPG legacy network products – including the MultiSwitch 900, GIGAswitch/FDDI switch and DEChub 90 – as well as develop and market products for small and midsize firms.

The company’s strategy is to support and develop legacy DNPG products for its existing installed base, while marketing its newer products to new and old customers, according to Digital Networks’ President Bill Burger.

Digital Networks kicked off its launch with two new products: a 24-port, 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch, and a remote access concentrator with Layer 4 intelligence.

The 24-port FE Switch is intended to sit in a corporate wiring closet and connect enterprise workgroups to a network backbone via two Gigabit Ethernet uplink ports. The Access Concentrator 200 is targeted at corporate and ISP customers, and features 48 or 60 integrated V.90 digital modems for handling a large mobile workforce, or dial-up Internet service customers. The device also has software that lets it do Layer 4 policy-based network management for controlling authentication and network access.

The FE Switch and Access Concentrator 200 are available now and are priced at US$71 and US$225 per port, respectively.

Cabletron Systems acquired DNPG for US$430 million in February 1998 after Compaq Computer Corp. bought Digital Equipment Corp. In September, computer reseller Vntek Communications of New Hampshire bought DNPG from Cabletron and established Digital Networks as a separate operating company. Digital Networks is licensing the Digital name brand and logo from Compaq.

The reincarnated firm will have a hard road ahead if it expects to compete in the corporate LAN equipment market, according to Craig Johnson, principal of Portland, Ore. research firm Pita Group.

“If you talk about it from a branding strategy perspective, [using the old Digital name] is probably not the clearest path to be on, because the Digital brand has so much baggage,” he said.

Despite being an almost forgotten name in the network industry, there is still a large Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) installed base, especially in Europe and Asia, Johnson added.