Adtran enters branch office router space

Adtran Inc. is planning to announce two modular access routers for branch offices next month in an effort to gain a larger share of the router market now dominated by networking giant Cisco Systems Inc.

The NetVanta 3200 and 3205 access routers will cost 40 percent less for installation and maintenance compared with Cisco gear, according to Adtran, analysts and customers.

Unlimited Cash Inc., a Camarillo, Calif.-based manufacturer of automated teller machines, has been an early customer of the 3200. The company has used the 3200 for the past two months as a T1 gateway to host e-mail and a Web site used by 50 employees.

"I looked at some Cisco routers, and the price difference was phenomenal, so I took a gamble and took an Adtran," said Dave Lenwell, network manager at Unlimited Cash. "I've found it easy to use, with all the features I need. But price was the biggest reason."

Analysts said Cisco now controls more than 90 percent of the branch office access router market, while Adtran has 2 percent. A single-host Netvanta 3200 router from Adtran would cost US$995, less than half the cost of the closest Cisco product, analysts confirmed.

"Adtran has an excellent price, and Cisco won't come down and match this price," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group. But Cisco offers more features for supporting multiple protocols and represents a different class of products, he added.

"If all you want is something to terminate a LAN handoff, the Adtran product works," Kerravala said.

Lenwell said Adtran has mimicked Cisco's method for configuring the router, making it easier for him and other network managers familiar with Cisco products to make installs and updates.

One tester of the Netvanta was the Tuscumbia City Schools in Tuscumbia, Ala., which knew about Adtran because the company is based just 80 miles away. The 3200, which was tested at the school system for four months, increased LAN speeds and automatically reset itself perfectly after several lightning storms, said Percy Posey, network administrator.

When the state school system changed to a supercomputer, it mandated Cisco routers, so the Adtran gear had to go. But Posey said, "I would definitely recommend it."

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