Enterasys sets sights on enterprise customers

On a cloudy April 3, 2000, dark sunglasses and well-built men with ear pieces and stylish grey suits greeted a motley crew of journalists, investors and analysts at the New York City launch of New Hampshire-based Cabletron Systems’ spin-off company, Enterasys Networks.

The new company will focus on high-performance enterprise switching solutions for Cabletron’s existing Global 2000 customers, in hopes of driving a more competitive advantage through its e-business infrastructure.

In a penthouse lounge with Keanu Reeves (actually a close facsimile), a leather-clad woman welcomed the crowd to “the Matrix,” and introduced Enterasys president Henry Fiallo. Sporting his own pair of sunglasses, Fiallo stressed that Enterasys was not a start-up with absolutely no infrastructure, no traction, no leverage and no critical mass. Instead, he said, Enterasys has all those pieces to offer its customer base.

He added later, “while we have the benefits of really acting like a start-up and really being very entrepreneurial and creative right out of the box…at the same time we bring forward with us relationships that were created under Cabletron and (are) looking to expand the model that we’re going to use to penetrate the market place.”

While wearing dark glasses (supplied by Enterasys), the 50-plus attendees listened to Cabletron elaborate on its February announcement that the company would split into four separate entities – Enterasys Networks, Riverstone Networks, Global Network Technology Services and Aprisma Management Technologies – to handle the different aspects of Cabletron’s business more effectively. Enterasys also made a surprise announcement of its first product, the Matrix E7 switch series, which it hopes will enable businesses to take full advantage of e-business and Internet-based opportunities.

“[Through Cabletron] Enterasys Networks has a strong heritage of developing switching products for the enterprise customer,” Fiallo said. “The Matrix E7 provides CIOs and network managers with an opportunity to advance their e-business infrastructure, providing a platform for the delivery of converged voice, video and data, e-commerce and Web-based content distribution. This platform is a prime example of our philosophy in action – to deliver best-in-class solutions for enterprise customers worldwide.”

According to Enterasys, the Matrix E7 is designed with an intelligence access platform architecture that provides security and quality of service.

Colin Hay, a senior analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based research company Gartner Group, said Enterasys has to deal with a problem that most enterprise network companies are going to face.

“Many companies already have a network in place, so a company like Enterasys might as well pack up and go home,” Hay said. “But, if they go out and go after the big companies who haven’t really set up any e-commerce solutions and rounded out their wire closet or offer some solutions that benefit their customers, they should do well in the enterprise space.”

According to Fiallo, as Cabletron was working towards the transformation from one company to four separate companies, “the thing that concerned us more than anything else was how the customer-base was going to receive it,” he said. “We spent a lot of time thinking about that and how we would craft our message and how we walk them through it. I’ve not met with one single customer, so far, that’s been negative about this.”

Existing customers need not lose sleep over Cabletron’s decision to split into four companies because, “in the enterprise, Enterasys Networks is the customer-facing organization, is the organization that maintains the relationship with the customer,” calls on the customer, will work with its channel partners on opportunities to design, propose, implement, integrate and support on a 24 by 7, worldwide basis the solutions they provide, Fiallo said.

Each company is a wholly owned subsidiary of parent Cabletron and will first stand as subsidiary IPOs, with all four scheduled to go to IPO by the end of this year.

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