Cisco Systems Inc. announced today a channel specialization program designed to teach its distributors how to integrate networks based on the SNA (Systems Network Architecture) protocol with IP-based networks.
Companies are beginning to integrate their SNA and IP (Internet protocol) networks to prepare for the convergence of data, voice and video on a single network, according to Cisco.
The integration program is an extension of Cisco's Certification Program and was created to increase the level of end-user satisfaction, said Allison Wesley, a Cisco spokeswoman. Companies looking to deploy integration technologies will receive higher quality customer care from Cisco distributors, she said.
The SNA/IP Channel Specialization Program offers two different levels of specialization. Sales specialization prepares partners to design and sell Cisco's SNA/IP systems, while solution specialization readies partners to design, sell, install and support Cisco's SNA/IP solutions.
Integrating an IP network with an SNA network involves installing an IP backbone that can carry SNA traffic on it, said Mary Hecht-Kissell, Cisco public relations manager. Historically, SNA has been the main protocol that runs on mainframe computers of which IBM Corp. has a dominant market share Cost savings is one advantage that is motivating companies to integrate their SNA and IP networks, said Hecht-Kissell. "With two separate networks, you have two sets of costs, including equipment, software and data management," she said, adding that the consolidated network requires fewer resources.
The other advantage of the combined network is increased access to applications and data that is stored on a mainframe, Hecht-Kissell said.
While a small percentage of enterprises have begun the integration of their SNA and IP networks, industry analysts have predicted that SNA/IP integration will grow to a US$4.5 billion [B] market by 2002, said the company.
Cisco has an 80 percent market share among the companies that have integrated their SNA and IP nets, Hecht-Kissell said. "Since only 25 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies have begun this conversion, Cisco has a big opportunity in this market," she said.
Centron DPL Co. Inc., Electronic Data Systems Corp., and NCR Corp. are a few of the companies that are interested in the program, Cisco said.
The program will be available during the second quarter of 1999.