Underlining the extent to which ISDN is finally starting to take off in the US, another specialist in the technology is being acquired by a mainstream networking company, this time Sunnyvale, California-based Combinet Inc is being snapped up Cisco Systems Inc (CI No 2,726). It will buy Combinet for 2m new Cisco shares, valuing the […]
Underlining the extent to which ISDN is finally starting to take off in the US, another specialist in the technology is being acquired by a mainstream networking company, this time Sunnyvale, California-based Combinet Inc is being snapped up Cisco Systems Inc (CI No 2,726). It will buy Combinet for 2m new Cisco shares, valuing the company at around $114.2m. Through the acquisition, the company hopes to fill out its ISDN products at the low end; it already offers ISDN communications on its 7000, 4000, 2500 and 1000 routers – specifically in the remote-access arena and for Small Office-Home Office applications. Combinet’s Everyware products include the 1000 line of personal computer adaptor boards, which support speeds of up to 512Kbps; the 2000 family of ISDN multiprotocol routers, including models for connection both to the enterprise local area network or the Internet for remote workgroups or branch offices; the 600 family of access products, which are designed to provide connection to the enterprise local area network using switched 56Kbps or 56Kbps lines; and the 900 server, which is designed to provide telecommuter and remote office call-in access to the enterprise network using an ISDN Primary Rate Interface. The company also markets Connection Manager, a software application designed to provide centralised call control and network management of the Everyware products.
Attracted to hardware
Mike Volpi, Cisco’s business development manager, said that time to market was Cisco’s primary consideration when it was deciding whether to buy Combinet, or instead develop the necessary technologies in-house. But he also commented that the issue of internal resources was also a factor, since Our business is growing so fast that it is difficult to get guys and build our own ready and experienced talent pool. In terms of technology, Cisco was attracted to Combinet’s iAPX-86-based hardware, as well as its software. Cisco will integrate Combinet into its Access Business Unit, which is headed by vice-president and general manager Don Listwin. Some elements of Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System will be incorporated into the Combinet products, said Volpi, specifically Cisco’s own IP routing protocol, IGRP, and AppleTalk encryption implementations. Conversely, Combinet’s call-back features, downloadable user profiles and Multilink Point-to-Point Protocol implementation will be added to Cisco’s internetwork system. In terms of sales channels, Cisco will not eliminate any of those acquired through Combinet, since the latter has concentrated on single-tier value added resellers – an area that Cisco itself is trying to expand. The flip side of the coin is that enterprise channels and service channels [where Cisco is traditionally strong] have not been tapped with Combinet, said Volpi, so Cisco hopes to find additional outlets for the Combinet products once the acquisition has been completed. Combinet is the fourth ISDN manufacturer this year to be bought by a more mainstream networking company: in June Shiva Corp signed to buy Spider Systems Ltd (CI No 2,685); a month earlier Xylogics Inc agreed to acquire Scorpion Logic Ltd (CI No 2,649); and in March, 3Com Corp signed to deal to acquire Sonix Communications Ltd (CI No 2,630). Volpi said the spate of acquisitions is no coincidence. The reason, Volpi said, is that the Baby Bells and long-distance operators are stepping up deployment and the US is getting to the point where there is a critical mass on roll-out by service providers and users are screaming for ISDN products.