Red-M sinks enterprise tooth

With the hype surrounding Bluetooth wireless connectivity gaining momentum, it comes as little surprise then that networking vendors are scrambling to release devices and applications to cash-in on a potential Bluetooth explosion.

What is surprising is that while most vendors have focused on the consumer market with snappy Bluetooth-enabled devices such as mobiles and PDAs, and connectivity components like NICs, Madge Networks' subsidiary Red-M has tuned in to the enterprise space for its Bluetooth expansion.

Red-M was formed 12 months ago after the company grew tired of trying to compete with the likes of Cisco in the traditional networking market, says Michael Beadsmoore, Red-M's director of business development, before launching as a wholly owned subsidiary of Madge in May of this year.

To form the new entity a group of its best engineers were effectively culled from Madge, locked in a room, and charged with the task of coming up with new applications for where the wireless market intersects with the Internet. The result, the formation of Red-M, and the release of its new Bluetooth enterprise server 3000AS and access point 1000AP. According to Beadsmoore, the server and low-cost access point provides Bluetooth radio coverage of up to 100 metres at speeds of up to 1Mbps.

The server is designed to connect any Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a laptop, PDA and mobile/WAP phone to a company's LAN or the Internet. The Linux-based 3000AS server also provides the platform to run a company's e-mail or Web server applications, as well as providing Web caching, secure firewalls and virtual private networking functions, company officials claim.

The sleek silver or black box resembles a small fan heater and Beadsmoore claims the stand-alone form factor of the 3000AS server is designed to be unobtrusive in the small office environment. However, Red-M has earmarked a number of possible application areas, such as airports, where a customer would be able to access the Internet via their PDA as soon as they walk in the door.

"Red-M's strategy is to take Bluetooth beyond simple short-range cable replacement technology and to enable a whole new class of mobile communication applications," Beadsmoore added.

But resellers will not have an easy time in partnering with Red-M to start rolling out its 3000AS access servers when they begin shipping in November. For starters, they will have to get past Ian Lisle, Madge sales director for Asia Pacific. While Lisle is optimistic about the opportunities that exist for some of "the right" resellers, he has been openly critical about the channel's "parasitic" nature in the past.

End-to-end solution

"Some integrators take technology from two or three [vendors], to the customer and implement a truly end-to-end solution. These are the guys we are interested in working with," affirms Lisle. "But to be honest, a lot of resellers are parasites. They ring me up and say ‘we want to sell your product'. And I say to them, well what are your core competencies? What [vendor] partners do you work with? What kind of support can you offer? A lot of these guys are only interested in shifting a box and getting paid for it. But as soon as something goes wrong they point the finger at [the vendor]."

Pricing was not available at press time.

Red-M on: (02) 9936 1700.

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