US networking vendor Adtran is planning to break into the European SME networking market with a line of combined access and switching products.
Danny Windham, general manager at Adtran's enterprise networks division, said: "We want to do for the SME market what Cisco has done for the enterprise by offering a complete range of products from the WAN to the desktop."
The carrier products vendor will lead with a combined WAN router and LAN managed switch. The NetVanta 1224 bundles firewall and VPN functions into a 24-port 10/100 switch with an optional gigabit uplink and modular WAN socket for Digital Subscriber Line or leased line adaptors.
Adtran is hiring distributors across Europe. Leslie Conway, Adtran's vice-president of marketing and distribution sales for enterprise networks, said Anixter has an exclusive distribution deal in the UK.
But the vendor faces stiff competition in the SME sector. Cisco renewed its search for SME VARs last week and Hewlett-Packard has aggressively pushed its ProCurve networking line. Other big players include Extreme Networks, Enterasys, 3Com and Huawei.
Jean-Phillipe Deby, business development director at Anixter EMEA, said end-users are increasingly looking at higher-value solutions. He did not see Adtran's relatively unknown brand in Europe as a problem.
"We are going to actively promote Adtran with our demand-creation team," said Deby.
"While there is a category of customer that will buy on brand, a lot more customers are looking at the specification of the products they buy."
However, Keith Humphries, managing consultant at EuroLAN Research, said the vendor could find it tough. "I don't think any distributor, with the exception of some niche operators, can create a market at the moment. Vendors have to recruit some resellers themselves," he said.
Humphries also suggested that an alternative route for the 1224 could be through the service provider market.
"There is a route to market for this via ISPs. The likes of Easynet and Claranet are building a channel at the moment," he said.
"If you are selling CPE along with a connection, why not go into the LAN as well? That said, ISPs want to offer a managed service, and I'm doubtful whether people want their LAN managed as well."
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