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When Markets Collide, Remember Where You Came From

In the search for the networking market's sweet spot, manufacturers in recent years have wrestled with whether they are carrier-class or enterprise networking providers. Unless you have the resources to do both well, it is important to decide whether you are fish or fowl -- or risk missing important opportunities.

A recent report from Communications Industry Researchers
Communications Industry Researchers showcases that difference.

For a brief period in 1999 and 2000, telcos bought more network equipment than enterprises. Reacting to this one-time event, networking companies anxiously positioned themselves as "carrier-class", thinking the road to prosperity was paved with large service provider contracts. In reality, however, CLECs accounts were mostly buying vendor financed equipment; RBOCs and major IXCs weren't buying if they didn't see a familiar logo on the hardware. And, furthermore, in chasing elusive carrier sales, many suppliers neglected to address the needs of enterprise customers, many of which possessed significant capital budgets and had demonstrated a real need for high bandwidth and optical equipment. Today, Fibre Channel, Ethernet, and WDM vendors have carved out niches unmet by Cisco, while the carrier market is still a handful of major buyers dealing with the same vendors they used before, during, and after the boom.

For today's networking vendor, the enterprise is clearly the place to be.

The press attention on carrier networking has obscured some technologies' true enterprise applications. Nowhere has this distortion been more twisted than the WDM market. WDM suppliers have invested significant R&D in addressing Telco requirements, but in fact, sales to enterprises over the past three years have exceeded sales to service providers.

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