Cabletron Touts Latest Hardware

The state-of-the-art in traffic control for the information superhighway made a stop here Friday.

A semitrailer packed with several hundred thousand dollars of network switching computers set up shop outside Cabletron Systems Inc.’s regional office in Riverbend Commerce Park.

Inside, local business people got a hands-on demonstration of the latest ways that large networks of computers talk to each other, a showcase of computer products dealing with “connectivity,” as they call it in the industry.

A company with offices scattered across the country or world can’t operate without sophisticated switching equipment that lets someone in Spokane communicate electronically with someone in, say, Singapore. Cabletron Systems considers itself the leader in those switching systems with 10 years of experience building and selling them.

For John Stewart, technical services manager for Spokane-based URM Stores Inc., Friday’s demonstration gave him a good idea of what his company needs in the way of a communications system.

“My crew and I will sit down in February or March and take a look at what there is out there,” said Stewart, a former Cabletron employee. “We’ll try to develop a communications strategy, and we’ll probably consider a kind of system we see here.”

About 60 local companies came through the trailer Friday, said Mick Batali, regional sales manager for Cabletron Systems. The 100 employees in the Post Falls office sell to mostly larger companies in the West.

“We’re in 85 percent of the Fortune 500 companies,” said Ken Wilkinson, office manager.

The traveling exhibit, one of three nationwide used to demonstrate the technology, helps customers see just what these complex systems do, said Steve Bowman, sales representative.

“Our customers receive a direct sales pitch on the phone, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell them what it is we’re trying to sell them,” he said. “When they see it in person, it makes a big difference.”

Cabletron sees a big advantage in producing and controlling all aspects of the systems’ development, Wilkinson said. Other companies in the connectivity business buy their technology, while Cabletron designs its own systems, he said.

Like most high technology companies, things change fast for Cabletron. But when companies buy the Cabletron system, they don’t have to tear everything out when it needs upgrading, he said. The new “card” or computer about the size of a VCR just slides into the system to upgrade it, he said.

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