Adtran aims to add value

The US vendor brings its range of cut-price network devices to the Middle East. Adtran has Cisco’s access switches and routers in its sights.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  September 23, 2004

|~|kevin-Barnes_m.jpg|~|Adtran’s Kevin Barnes emphasises the vendor’s engineering background and its willingness to take demo units to interested customers in the Middle East in a bid to generate new business.|~|American network access supplier Adtran is targeting the Middle East for expansion. The vendor will use its existing Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) distribution deal with Anixter in an attempt to win business. The vendor’s initial focus will be on enterprise products, including the Netvanta line of routers, switches, VPNs and firewalls. “We think it is very important for us to grow internationally, and the Middle East has the most potential in terms of growth. Just look at the cranes. The rate of construction is phenomenal and this brings great business opportunities,” says Ed Werner, executive vice president, EMEA, Adtran. “Anixter has a strong base here and we can utilise that to expand into the region. We are also have a partner programme, which is still in the negotiation stage but Anixter has brought some strong players to the table,” he adds. Adtran started out in the wide area network (WAN) space and is migrating into the local area network (LAN) to grow its business. The vendor sees an opportunity to develop access switches and routers that compete well with Cisco offerings. It is looking to free software upgrades and system support to encourage interest in its products, as well as seeking to utilise relatively low vendor margins to attract channel partners. “Cisco is very successful but its after sales support is very expensive, so that is where we have to attack and offer better value for money,” says Werner. “End users are paying twice what they have to for the same quality. Our margins are around 50% rather than 80% so a significant amount goes to channel partners and their costs will be dramatically lower as we offer a lot more services free,” he adds. A key part of Adtran’s strategy is to demonstrate products to enterprises in the region. It has supplied demo units to Anixter and advocates that companies test the vendor’s claims for themselves. “We have always been a strong company in engineering more cost effective and better performing solutions, we take the complexity out of products,” says Kevin Barnes, business development director, EMEA, Adtran. Indicative of Adtran’s attempts to use the cost issue to burrow into Cisco’s dominance in the region is the 1224STR, which combines WAN router and LAN switch functionality in one unit. “It’s a natural migration for the small to medium sized businesses or large enterprise branch offices,” says Barnes. “It cuts down on cost, space and needs only one power supply, which reduces the chance of failure,” he adds. The vendor faces an uphill struggle to break into Cisco’s stranglehold in the market. Cisco’s market share is daunting for any newcomer and the strength of its brand is impressive. The large number of Cisco certified network engineers in the region is also a strong factor in favour of Cisco. Adtran, however, is keen to highlight the similarities between its and Cisco’s products. “There is no intellectual property in the command line interface that is used to configure a Cisco box and Adtran has been able to incorporate that into its products,” says Barnes. “If you’ve been trained in a Cisco product, you don’t have to throw that knowledge away, you can install an Adtran product as there are very little configuration differences,” he explains.||**||

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