Enterasys earns local govt stripes

6 May 2003

Enterasys Networks, the US network equipment seller spun off from Cabletron two years ago that employs 100 people in Shannon, has extended its reach into the government sector with the news that it has been chosen by the South Dublin County Council to provide a gigabit Ethernet upgrade.

The network, which was installed by Enterasys channel partner Complete Network Technology, will give council staff access to a wide range of applications and online services and also provide the platform for making a range of council services available online to the public in the future. The value of the contract was not disclosed.

An upbeat country manager for Enterasys Ireland, Didier Lebret-Renault, told siliconrepublic.com that he expected further contract wins in the government and financial services sectors and overall revenue growth of 30pc for the Irish business during the coming year.

With few telcos and ISPs on its books, Enterasys has been relatively immune to the meltdown in demand that has afflicted many of its rivals, its revenues remaining steady at around US$120m for each of the last four quarters. Lebret-Renault attributes its consistent performance to two things: the company’s reputation for technical innovation that has resulted in continued demand for its high-end products and the exceptional loyalty of its customers, most of which are in the healthcare, financial services and educational sectors.

Although there are many other network equipment vendors in the marketplace, it is market leader Cisco that Lebret-Renault saw as his main rival. “Apart from Cisco, we’re the only one with a full product range,” he pointed out.

While under no illusions about Cisco’s market dominance, which he felt would continue into the foreseeable future, the Frenchman believed that Enterasys has a solid platform for growth. The company’s pitch is based on two interrelated concepts: return on investment and protection of investment – the latter referring to its focus on ‘future-proofing’ technology to ensure that customers won’t need to junk existing equipment when upgrading their networks.

To date, Enterasys has had a low profile in the country compared to Cisco but Lebret-Renault believed the company’s sales pitch is starting to be heard in the marketplace. As an example, he cited the decision two years ago by University College Cork to replace its Cisco network with an Enterasys alternative.

Identifying security as a major growth driver in the market, Lebret-Renault said he had high hopes for products such as Dragon, an intrusion detection tool he described as “anti-virus for the network” and User Personalised Network (UPN), another Enterasys value add which allows customers to define access control policies for their users.

Commenting on the recent move by low-cost Chinese manufacturer Huawei into the Irish market through a distribution agreement with Data Solutions, Lebret-Renault felt that Huawei could find some success at the SME end of the market but that unless it decided to set up its own office here it was unlikely to win business of government departments or corporates for whom strong local support and product understanding are a key criteria in selecting suppliers. “I’d be surprised if there’s a big take-up of Huawei equipment in the Irish market. It is more likely to gain market share in central Europe through grey imports from eastern European countries.”

By Brian Skelly