Optical/IP Networks

Aprisma Bids For Management Dominance

Aprisma clearly hopes to parlay its new optical relationships into market dominance. The work involved in creating proprietary command-line links or SNMP agents for devices from the likes of Juniper Networks Inc. (http://www.juniper.com), Sycamore Networks Inc. (http://www.sycamorenet.com), Quantum Bridge Communications Inc.(http://www.quantumbridge.com), and Tenor Networks Inc.(http://www.tenornetworks.com) will enable Aprisma to add crucial configuration data to Spectrum’s topology models and databases. This approach could build Aprisma a beachhead in the emerging market for optical network management.

If Aprisma’s strategy pays off, Spectrum ultimately could provide a de facto way to configure optical networking gear from multiple vendors – even in the absence of standards. Factions like the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) and the Optical Domain Service Interconnect (ODSI) coalition already are feuding over what those management specifications should comprise (see Crunch Time for Signaling Standard ), but Aprisma has not joined either group. In fact, Aprisma spokespeople don’t seem to be interested in shaping standards. Instead, they say they’ll take the lead from their partners.

Maintaining this neutral stance is crucial to Aprisma’s success. When Cabletron launched Aprisma in December 1999, its goal was to disassociate its Spectrum management framework from the negative perceptions it generated from being ‘Cabletron’s tool.’ The management team believed prospective buyers overlooked Spectrum’s real strengths as a multivendor platform because they thought Cabletron would ultimately skew Spectrum’s capabilities in favor of Cabletron’s hardware -- and that of its partners.

Given this history, Aprisma is eager to separate itself as much as possible from the Cabletron mothership. “We see Aprisma developing its own relationships and collaborations with vendors, independent of Cabletron. That’s our goal,” says Kelly.

That strategy is underscored by Cabletron’s recent restructuring announcement, which further segments its business into separate startups—including Riverstone Networks (providing hardware and software to service providers); Enterasys Networks (selling enterprise e-commerce solutions); Global Network Technology Services (network consulting) and Aprisma. The plan is to spin off each company via public offerings as soon as possible.

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