Tasman Targets Cisco's ISR
The Tasman 3120 Converged Services Router (CSR), which formally launched today, attacks the high end of Cisco's 3800 line. With this and earlier products, Tasman is going after Cisco's Integrated Services Routers, the enterprise boxes that go beyond routing to become points of origin for applications such as security and VOIP. (See Cisco Takes Apps on Board.)
"This broadens our range significantly and takes us deeper into the 3800-class territory," says Paul Smith, Tasman's CEO.
As with most Tasman boxes, the 3120 is equipped with enterprise-speed interfaces: DS3 and Fast Ethernet. The router also boasts a laundry list of integrated security features and offers quality of service (QOS) with eight levels of priority.
Tasman's argument is a familiar one: Cisco's routers, even the new ISR lines, bog down when too many features are in use. That's due to the weight of history on them. Smith says the routers's ties to Cisco's older software make them less efficient. Tasman claims to have found cases where the 3120 can run twice or even four times the throughput of a Cisco 3825 over a point-to-point DS3 connection.
Cisco officials declined to comment, but a spokesman did note that competitors don't match the ISR boxes's breadth of services and modules, and that Cisco has shipped more than 500,000 of the routers.
The 3120 also competes against companies such as Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), but Tasman seems more eager to play the role of Cisco gadfly.
That would give the company some grounding after a tumultuous history. Founded in 1998 as Tiara Networks, Tasman has raised $93 million in a mind-bending seven rounds of funding, including $14.4 million last year. (See Tasman: Lucky Seventh Round? and Tiara Becomes Tasman.)
The company originally targeted the service-provider edge, but the name change in 2002 brought a different focus, to the enterprise WAN, where Tasman began billing itself as a jet-fueled alternative to Cisco. "They had a lot of good hardware engineers that were able to get high performance and low cost," recalls analyst Mark Seery of Ovum-RHK Inc.
Tasman has grown to 160 employees, 60 of them in a Bangalore, India, office established three years ago. Most of its sales are through OEM deals with other systems vendors -- relationships that are kept hush-hush. Tasman concentrates on the enterprise market, although some smaller carriers will use the company's routers as aggregation boxes, Smith says.
As for the name, press releases from 2002 refer indirectly to Abel Janszoon Tasman, the Dutch explorer who discovered Tasmania and New Zealand. "Tasman" also happens to be the street Cisco lives on, but that's apparently just a wild coincidence. Yep.
Tasman intends to continue working its way up the Cisco ladder, with the next likely step being "up into the 7000 class," Smith says. The implication is that Cisco could see Tasman start to encroach more on its service-provider turf, should Tasman choose to market its future products that way.
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading