Alcatel dives into data

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Telecommunications vendor Alcatel has spearheaded its push into data networking by signing on four new channel partners in a multi-million dollar plan aimed at challenging the dominance of Cisco Systems.

Sydney-based distributor Business Telephone Advisory Services (BTAS), system integrator Integ Communications, Cisco integrator Nexon Asia Pacific and Queensland-based voice and data networker Lanlink will push the Alcatel OmniSwitch range of data products and services in a deal that could eventually challenge market leader Cisco Systems. In early May, the company also signed VoIP subsidiary VExpress to carry the range.

Charles Assaf, MD at Nexon Asia Pacific, said the deal, worth several million in revenue for the integrator in the first 12 months, would allow Nexon to deliver a broader package to the market. “I don't think Cisco will like this very much, but I think Alcatel will now be able on bulk to compete against them,” he said. “It will compete quite closely with Cisco now, but at a more competitive price.”

Until now, Nexon distributed Cisco data products only, but hopes to shift its emphasis to voice over the next year or so. He expects Alcatel product to grow to 20 percent of Nexon business in the next 12 months.

“[This deal] means we can now cover the high-end SMBs right through to larger corporate enterprises. Cisco and Alcatel cover different market segments but there will be some overlap,” Assaf said.

Ian Poole, CEO at Integ Communications Solutions, said the deal could enable the system integrator to open a new division based on data – Integ Data Networking. Company strategy was to move into the converged voice and data market, using the Alcatel product line as an initial stage in strengthening its data offering and offering a more complete package to clients.

“We expect Alcatel to account for about 11 percent of our business in the next 12 months, taking $3 to $3.5 million, and that's both products and services,” Poole said.

Gavin Jones, MD at BTAS, said Alcatel data products were expected to reach $1 million, or 10 to 15 percent of that company's business in the next 12 months. The company was until now a voice specialist.

“We've been in convergence for some time...so we see this as a building block to carry the applications we are already dealing with forward,” Jones said.

Vaughan Webster, national channel manager for e-business networking at Alcatel in Australia, said the annual agreements established a data channel worth $6 to $10 million in turnover for the telco in Australia, which the company hopes will push it to number two in the data space within 18 months. IDC figures already place Alcatel at number six, Webster said.

“Some of these partners have a long relationship with Alcatel [in voice],” he said. “[Data] is a new product range for us we believe is very competitive.”

Alcatel is promising margins better than the 50 percent premium some established data vendors provide, Webster said. “We're providing better margins relative to other vendors,” he said.

Alcatel claims its OmniSwitch 7000 and 8800 series switching platforms are suitable for core, wiring closet, and edge implementations.

The OmniSwitch 7000 series targets edge, LAN aggregation, large wiring closet, medium enterprise core, or Gigabit Ethernet Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). The OmniSwitch 8800 targets the large enterprise core, data centre, and Gigabit Ethernet MAN environments.

The OmniSwitch 6600 provides multi-Gigabit Ethernet capacity, multi-layer security, carrier-class availability, intelligent switching and routing services at wire speed, Alcatel said.

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