Seranoa Customers Pipe Up

Its first three customers are fairly obscure, but they say the router port concentrator gets the job done

March 19, 2004

3 Min Read
Seranoa Customers Pipe Up

After staying mum for a year, Seranoa Networks Inc. is gearing up to reveal its first customers using its flagship product.

The Boxborough, Mass.-based company will announce Monday that service providers IntelliSpace, Crocker Communications Inc., and North Atlantic Networks LLC are cutting their teeth on its WANport Service Edge Concentrator. It’s a box designed to group together circuits that would otherwise require lots of expensive router ports, trumping equipment options from vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR).

Granted, the customers aren’t exactly Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), but two of the smallish carriers Light Reading spoke with for this article say that Seranoa’s product gets the job done.

Seranoa’s pitch is that customers can free up processing power and extend the life of existing routers -- an advantage that translates into streamlined network operations, increased rack space, greater capacity to deliver new services such as voice over IP, and significant savings on router chassis and WAN cards.

"Seranoa’s selling point is that you can get a bunch of port density and save money,” says Kevin Mitchell, directing analyst at Infonetics Research Inc.

Seranoa revealed WANport in late January 2003, going after the market for router upgrades (see Seranoa Surfaces). More than 40,000 edge router units shipped in North America between 2000 and 2003, according to Mitchell. Since then, the company has raised $9 million in venture capital funding, bringing its total to $25 million (see Seranoa Scores $9M More).

IntelliSpace is a metropolitan broadband data service provider that has had the WANport in production for six months. Initially approached by Seranoa a year-and-a-half ago, IntelliSpace said two-thirds of the 12 channelized ports on the box are now filled to help service multitenant buildings it caters to in New York City.

Chief network architect Eugene Pisman says he is happy with WANport and plans to purchase more boxes once IntelliSpace exhausts its current stock.

It’s apparent that Seranoa’s big sales challenge will be getting its foot in the door by breaking through the “it’s not Cisco” mentality that many data-networking equipment buyers have.

North Atlantic Networks was looking to stay within Cisco’s infrastructure last year when planning a backbone upgrade and expansion, because “it’s what we know,” says Art Sebastiano, director of sales and marketing. But Sebastiano says it would have cost the facilities-based carrier more money for Cisco hardware than for the Seranoa product.

North Atlantic, which covers all of New England and metropolitan New York City, has had two Seranoa boxes configured into its network for one month, and they have been carrying customer traffic in Massachusetts for two weeks.

One big question, of course, is what kind of pricing Seranoa is getting to put these boxes in the network. Sebastiano says North Atlantic received its first boxes at a “reduced price” but plans to make some sort of purchase arrangement with Seranoa going forward.

Seranoa remains tight-lipped about next steps. Vice president of marketing Sally Bament says the company is planning more announcements related to customer acquisition and product expansion.

“There’s nothing like a few reference accounts to sort of start things moving,” she said.

One likely strategy would be finding a larger OEM partnerships to mitigate the challenge of building a revenue stream out of small companies.

WANport's list price starts at $39,500, compared to edge routers at an estimated $30,000 to $250,000, depending on size and number of modules. A chassis price tag can range from $30,000 to $75,000.

— Cecily O’Connor, special to Light Reading

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