Optical/IP Networks

Trapeze's Partner Mania

Wireless LAN switch startup Trapeze Networks Inc. has wrapped up yet another enterprise OEM deal, this time with wired networking player Enterasys Networks Inc. (NYSE: ETS).

This is the startup's third large enterprise OEM partner: As well as Enterasys, Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) are offering customers some or all of the Trapeze product line. The firm also recently announced that D-Link Systems Inc. will use Trapeze technology to develop a switch for the small to medium-sized business market.

So what's with all the deals?

"We see several opportunities with partners to expand distribution either geographically or within a particular vertical," a company spokeswoman writes in an email to Unstrung. "What you’ll see next are joint development efforts where the system vendors take our software and use it in their platforms -- so we can integrate wired and wireless by embedding WLAN software in partner devices."

And -- seemingly untroubled by the notion of having too many partners to service -- Trapeze says that more are in the pipeline.

"There are several more partnerships in the works... Going forward we are going to diversify even more with partners -- going after partners that have expertise with a particular application."

Of course, Nortel used to partner with Airespace, before that particular switch startup was bought by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). And some may see echoes of Airespace's approach in Trapeze's current zeal for new partners.

Craig Mathias, principal at the Farpoint Group thinks that acquisition is certainly one potential outcome for Trapeze.

"It makes a lot of sense," he says. "It's certainly a lot easier than going public right now."

He also takes the partnerships as a sign of continued growth in the enterprise wireless LAN market. "Even if you take away Cisco's half of the market, there's still an enormous opportunity out there," he says.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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