ADTRAN is a networking company which has transformed a great deal over the past decades. In the nineties, the company held a virtual monopoly in the CSU/DSU market and most every network had the company’s standalone boxes in their network (including TMC). In fact the company was once synonymous with the term CSU/DSU in my mind. As this functionality was added into other boxes, the company saw its identity erode and in the process took the opportunity to grow into a major networking force selling over 1,700 products to enterprise and carrier customers. Total sales last year exceeded $500 million and the company employs 1,700 worldwide and is located in scenic Huntsville, Al.
One of the company’s primary competitors is Cisco and to fight off this networking “monopoly” the company has focused on building quality products at lower prices. ADTRAN doesn’t have the Cisco name but it has been around since 1985 and while so many competitors have left the space, the company keeps chugging along, identifying new market segments and rolling out multiple products to fill them.
Case in point is the NetVanta 1544 series of layer 3, Gigabit aggregation switches allowing customers to aggregate up to four 2.5 Gbps SFP ports in order to allow low-cost 10 Gbps switching in a product priced in the range of typical switches offering less aggregate throughput. All three varieties of the products have 24 fixed 10/100/1000Base-T ports and depending on your needs, there is a traditional Ethernet switch… The 1544P has PoE support and the 1544F provides support for fiber – perfect for campus and similar environments.
List prices are $2,795 for the base model while PoE support brings the price up to $3,795. Fiber support via the 1544F costs $3,995 and this is the only model which is not currently shipping – expect it mid/late-summer.
ADTRAN’s Todd Lattanzi brought me up to speed on the new product line and explained these new solutions are great for a company that may need 10 Gbps support in the future but doesn’t want to forklift upgrade later. He also mentioned these products are ideal for VoIP.
Latanzi went on to explain the benefits of this product line to customers are the ability to rely on a single vendor for their networking needs [as his company has such a broad product line], a 40% savings over other providers, a single OS on all switches and a built-in WiFi access controller in this product line.
My thoughts are that this economic environment seems to be one where companies like ADTRAN can differentiate themselves by pushing value. Yes Cisco costs more but Cisco spends a great deal of money on marketing which helps cement the networking giant as a very safe choice. But as many vendors and buyers have told me this year, customers are more open to new vendors who can provide them better value. On an upcoming trip to Huntsville I will be following up with ADTRAN to see how the market is reacting to their new offerings and the company’s positioning as the quality and value focused networking equipment provider.