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A Canadian presence

Enterasys' Paul Zink has a big job ahead of him as the new Vice President and General Manager of the company's Canadian arm.


May 1, 2002  


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Fresh into his third quarter as Vice President and General Manager at Enterasys Networks Canada Inc., Paul Zink is naturally excited about future prospects. And as head of a nation-wide field sales and support organization offering a full suite of enterprise networking products and services, he has his work cut out for him.

His 21 years on the Canadian technology scene, including senior sales positions at General Datacomm and NCR Corporation and, most recently, nine years at Cisco Systems, pave the way.

For those unfamiliar with the company, Enterasys Networks Inc. of Portsmouth, NH was formed early last August from the core enterprise networking assets of the now defunct Cabletron Systems. (The carrier networks division became Riverstone Networks.)

“The name changed,” says Zink, “but the philosophy and the target market changed as well, so it’s more than just the name change. And that’s just fine with our customers.”

And it appears Canada is anything but the backwoods. “Our newest branch router platform, released a couple months ago, was developed right here in Mississauga by our 80-member team upstairs,” says Zink of the recently established Enterasys Toronto Design Centre.

So tell us about your products Paul.

“I look at our product line as being a solutions portfolio with three pillars,” he explains, listing security solutions, availability solutions and mobility solutions as the core of the company’s offerings.

“And we play at all levels, but primarily we’re targeted at the mid- to high-end enterprise customer,” he says. “More than half of Canada’s top 200 companies are customers of ours,” he adds, listing several large players in government, manufacturing, education, utility and industrial segments. Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, Foundry, Extreme and 3Com are reported to be direct competitors.

What makes Enterasys special?

“What I like about this company is that it’s a good size, the technology is rock solid, the quality of the people is very good and, at the end of the day, our customers are telling us they like that,” says Zink. “Besides, in terms of ‘speeds and feeds’ and performance, we’re clearly using the latest enhancements in terms of technology. As a result we’ve been able to outpace the others on performance, and certainly on price as well.”

Network intrusion detection is a major Enterasys strength, he says. “Companies these days are very concerned about protecting their assets, and data is certainly an asset. We’ve been in bake-off upon bake-off with our competition in intrusion detection, and we have consistently shown that there are superior technical advantages with our Dragon product.”

Wireless networking is yet another Enterasys speciality, so Cabling Systems asked why wireless is such a hot topic these days.

“Wireless connections are sexy,” says Zink. “Everybody understands the return on investment. It certainly saves you money in not having to hard wire Ethernet connections around the office, but it gives the employee flexibility as well. And our wireless products provide better reach and better security while providing a clear upgrade path to 54 megabits per second.”

For the cabling folks, Zink says he would look at wireless solutions as an “added value.” After all, he points out, no infrastructure is entirely wireless, since even wireless boxes need to be connected at some point. “So wireless is certainly not going to put cabling out of business,” he notes.

As with most heavyweights in the .com segment, times have been tough. This spring saw the company implement a previously announced restructuring plan including a 30 per cent workforce reduction. More significantly, several senior executives, including the company’s CEO, have recently left the company to pursue other interests. But Zink remains upbeat.

“When I talk to customers, they like what they see in terms of the expertise coming from (interim CEO) Bill O’Brian and Yuda Doron (president). They are adding a lot of energy and commitment and future thinking to the firm. I think that’s good,” says Zink, “and our customers are echoing that.”

And regarding the general economic downturn?

“These are certainly challenging times with respect to the economy,” says Zink. “Reports suggest the internetworking marketplace is growing anywhere between five and eight per cent in Canada this year,” he points out, “while in previous years that growth would have been in the double digits. But having said that, our products offer a definable return on investment, so it’s not so much a challenge as part of our job to understand the customers’ IT environment and drive solutions that effect a return on investment for those customers.”

On the bright side, he says that while many companies are dependent upon the service provider market place, Enterasys is not. “We’re purely enterprise focused,” he points out, “and that is a growing marketplace.”

Chris Blythe is a broadly published writer and infocom analyst. He can be reached at cblythe@attcanada.ca.


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