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March 23, 2005

Nortel taps trapeze to market alongside Airespace WiFi kit

As we predicted yesterday, Canadian telecoms equipment manufacturer Nortel Networks has struck a deal with WLAN vendor Trapeze Networks to OEM its switches, as well as doing joint development work on new features "to deliver pervasive mobility."

By CBR Staff Writer

The announcement came just a day after Trapeze rival Aruba Wireless Networks announced another major player in telephony equipment, France’s Alcatel, had signed a very similar deal to OEM its kit.

In both cases, the telecoms equipment vendor had an existing OEM deal with Airespace, the other big player in WLAN switches, acquired by Cisco Systems in January. Both were left stranded by that acquisition in terms of future roadmap if not immediate product, since they are direct competitors to Cisco in the data networking market, though Aruba at least claims it was in conversations with Alcatel even before the Cisco/Airespace deal and that the French company an seeking an alternative supplier.

Nortel is in the first year of a three-year agreement with Airespace, so the relationship continues, despite the acquisition by Cisco in the meantime. For the Brampton, Ontario-based manufacturer, the Trapeze Enterprise switch becomes its 2300 Series, explained Shirley O’Sullivan, its EMEA leader for security and WLAN, while the Airespace product, the 2200 Series, will continue to be sold until the customers see no need for it any more.

That said, she stressed that the product based on Trapeze technology is designed to meet the next demand from the market, namely mobility, rather than just the RF management offered by the Airespace-based device. Among the features to be delivered on the 2300 Series, which starts shipping in May, are best-of-breed VoIP and multimedia services, she went on. It’s a more aggressive product set [than the 2200 Series], O’Sullivan argued.

As for Pleasanton, California-based Trapeze Michael Coci, director of product marketing and business development, said the deal with Nortel involves the switch part of the company’s product line, which is clearly is main concern, but Nortel is also a potential participant in Trapeze’s Open Access Point Initiative (OAPI), a programme designed to enable other AP vendors to blast a Trapeze image onto their products in order for them to be able to talk to and be managed by a Trapeze switch.

This is in fact the second OEM deal for Trapeze on its switches, as 3Com is already selling them under its brand, and Coci said other deal are in the pipeline. Likely candidates for such deals would be the other OAPI partners D-Link and Senao, though any of the other networking players like Juniper, Foundry and Enterasys might want to offer a WLAN switch. German telecom equipment giant Siemens AG has already made its move, acquiring a smaller WLAN switch vendor Chantry Networks Inc at the end of last year.

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