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July 11, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Marlborough, Massachusetts-based router manufacturer CrossComm Corp is making an expanded push into the UK market through a new joint venture company with its UK distributor, Tricom Group Ltd (CI No 2,199). It has also announced a new high-end backbone router for IBM Corp SNA environments developed specifically for non-stop corporate networking. Rather than establishing its own UK subsidiary, CrossComm says it opted for the joint venture to build on both companies’ expertise. Tad Witkowicz, president and chief executive of CrossComm, says that Tricom has very strong distribution expertise, but says that particularly with the new high-end router, users want the reassurance of dealing directly with the manufacturer. To be called CrossComm UK, the company will be 51% owned by CrossComm and 49% by Tricom. It will be based at Tricom’s High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire headquarters. The new router – dubbed the XL80 – incorporates the company’s Protocol Independent Routing software, which gets around the problem of routing unroutable SNA packets by building up a database of network addresses. Until now, a question mark had hung over whether this approach could be used for very high-end applications (underlined by the fact that the company has not until now attacked the top end of the market) but CrossComm has got around this through a distributed RISC processor design, incorporating four Intel Corp 80960 RISC processors per router module, giving 32 processors in all. This, it says, gives it much greater processing power than the Cisco 7000 and the IBM 6611 against which it is being pitched. Indeed, CrossComm reckons that the XL80 is three times faster than the former, and ten times faster than the latter. Among the other features which the company is pushing is support for Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking directory sources (CrossComm is a licensee of the APPN code); built-in local and wide area network analyser functions; end-station inventory, network billing and accounting software, as well as rule-based network trouble shooting software. Asynchronous Transfer Mode support is also planned for the first quarter of next year: CrossComm says that the router has an Asynchronous Transfer Mode-ready switching backplane capable of 32Gbps capacity. US list price for the router begins oat $20,000; upgrades to Asynchronous Transfer Mode will be priced at $1,500 per router module. Both Witkowicz and Mike Hafferty, who is chief executive of Tricom, admit that the new company is going to be faced with a battle on two fronts: not only will they have to establish the CrossComm name in the UK (until now, the company’s products have been badged as Tricom), but they will also have to convince those users who have heard of CrossComm that it has the expertise to provide them with high-end implementations. Hafferty is, however, optimistic about the company’s prospects, saying that despite the move into uncharted territory the new router is complementary to our product range and I don’t think we’ll encounter any problems. However, Witkowicz does admit that there are scenarios where Cisco Systems Inc might still be the preferred option, saying Where Cisco does win is where there is a large TCP/IP contingent in a company… these people have a religion about Cisco.

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