Compaq unveils router based on Cisco system

Strengthening its position in the internetworking market Compaq Computer Corp. last week announced a low-cost router the company developed using Cisco Systems Inc.'s internetworking operating system and standard PC components.

Compaq's Netelligent 8500 Communications Platform is the first router based upon industry-standard hardware and components according to the company. The midrange router is targeted at small- and medium-size organizations that need to interconnect local-area networks over wide-area networks.

"The protocols are already there what we're talking about is hardware design based on industry components and architecture " said Jeff Wilbur director of marketing in Compaq's Networking Products Division. "The government is always playing guessing games with [new technology] on contracts. With an open design like this it really protects their investment."

Users will be able to add processors memory and PCI card upgrades to the router just as they would to a PC today Wilbur said. And because Compaq manufacturers these components in volume it can offer the product at a low cost.

Compaq plans to add the router to the General Services Administration schedule and to indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts such as the Navy's PC LAN+ and the National Guard Bureau's Reserve Component Automation System.

~The product will open up an opportunity for the company in internetworking. "We've had to walk away from this arena in the past " said Gary Newgaard director of federal sales at Compaq. "The router will be a great addition to our contract base and letter-of-supply [holders]."

The product should do very well in the government market said Greg Cline director of network integration and management research at Business Research Group. "It's a router on a PC which is a great thing " he said. "The stage is set for companies like Compaq to lower the cost curve for routers. This announcement represents Compaq's commoditization of midrange routing."

Midrange Focus Dan Blizinski the product manager in Compaq's Networking Products Division said the company focused on the midrange router market because the high-end market was becoming saturated. "But we realize that the power of X86 processor is superior over midrange competitors. We can bring a midrange product to market at a low-end price point." Commercial pricing for the router starts at $2 767. Federal pricing starts at $2 323. The product will be available next month.

The product comes bundled with Compaq's Netelligent Management Software Version 1.1 also announced last week and Insight Manager 3.0 which manages Compaq servers and Netelligent products on a network. The new version of the Netelligent Management Software is based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Windows NT it lets administrators configure and manage routers via networking icons and software prompts. The router is based on the X86 processor architecture industry-standard SIMMs and a gigabit PCI backplane. It can be rack-mounted and has a pull-out tray that provides access to the processor module and three expansion slots that support PCI controllers for Ethernet Fast Ethernet and serial or Integrated Services Digital Network. Compaq plans to add support for Fiber Distributed Data Interface Token Ring and Primary Rate ISDN.

The 8500 platform also will ship with 8M of dynamic RAM expandable to 40M using standard SIMMs.

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