March Networks drums up new broadband strategy

Kanata, Ont.-based March Networks Corp. last month launched a new strategy and announced an acquisition, which the company said will enable it to be positioned as a key player on the broadband stage.

The start-up is a developer of IP multimedia applications and delivery platforms for broadband networks, according to Peter Wilenius, assistant vice-president of product management and marketing at March.

“This is Terry Matthews’ latest venture after moving on from Newbridge after the acquisition by Alcatel,” he explained, referring to the company’s chief operating officer.

Wilenius said the foundations of March are from a company called Telexis, which had been in business for a number of years in the IP video space. Telexis formally became March Networks late last July.

Wilenius said the company supports a number of applications – primarily monitoring applications for the enterprise and home security customers.

“It goes beyond security…it’s the ability to access cameras through a network, whether you’re a small (or) medium-sized enterprise,” he explained. Some examples of uses for the application include “checking on your employees at your gas station, your hotel, or (if) you’re a corporate security guy who is managing a number of remote sites,” he offered.

As part of its announcement last month, the company revealed that it will focus on building applications, enabling it to take advantage of the benefits of the next-generation broadband IP networking infrastructure. March Networks plans to offer a business information services application, or real-time filtering of multimedia, according to Wilenius, such as TV, newswire or Web pages.

The company also announced that it is acquiring Elcombe Systems Ltd., a designer, manufacturer and integrator of emergency response solutions in the area of health care. Elcombe, also located in Kanata, Ont., was formed in 1991 as a spin-off of Newbridge. March Networks and Elcombe will be merging their product lines, according to Wilenius.

The timing for these announcements was right for March, he said. “Broadband pipes are getting bigger; broadband access is being deployed through cable modems, and most importantly now DSL. As well we’re starting to see broadband wireless. So there’s access to fairly good amounts of bandwidth that can support video, and that’s really what has been limiting the deployment of IP video in the past — the access to enough bandwidth,” he explained.

Benjamin Eng, project coordinator for UUNET’s facilities planning group in Toronto, has been a March customer for about a year and a half. UUNET, an ISP, uses March’s video equipment to perform remote surveillance of its point of presence (POP) sites.

“We use their equipment to send video images of our POP sites over the Internet for video monitoring, as well as to do some security functions such as monitoring doors, allowing people access into the facilities remotely,” Eng explained.

Eng said the company has been very attentive to its customers’ needs.

“March Networks has made some modifications to its more recent software releases that incorporates our needs,” he said. “While they are proceeding with these new initiatives…they are still servicing their existing customer base.”

UUNET is planning to look at some of the future solutions from March that will fit its needs, Eng said.

March Networks is currently shipping its security applications to enterprise customers, and is working with service providers to deploy consumer-oriented video monitoring services, which Wilenius said should be rolled out early 2001. It will also be shipping out health care solutions then.