Lucent Reconsiders Enterprise

Looking to appeal to enterprise customers, telecom equipment maker Lucent has signed a wide-ranging partnership with Enterasys to bolster its network security capabilities.

Since spinning off Avaya in 2000, Lucent’s focus has been squarely on voice and data carriers. But the plague of viruses has convinced the Murray Hill, N.J., company to reconsider large corporate customers — especially in the financial services, government and Fortune 500 sectors.

Initially, the pact between Lucent and Enterasys includes joint sales, marketing and services, such as security audits. Soon, Enterasys’ network management tools, including intrusion detection and policy management software, will be integrated into Lucent’s firewall and system audit offerings.

The fact that Enterasys’ customers are all in the enterprise space was key motivation, John Meyer, president of Lucent’s services arm, said in a conference call.

Lucent does not have a direct sales force assigned to that market, said Meyer, who joined Lucent last year from EDS. Currently, it has no immediate plans to establish one, preferring partnerships, he said.

Lucent’s move comes two weeks after rival Juniper offered $4 billion in stock for NetScreen Technologies.

That purchase will give Juniper a proven line of security and access products and bolsters its enterprise client roster. About 75 percent of NetScreen’s business comes from enterprise customers in the financial services, retail and health care sectors. The firm also has a strong relationship with government clients.

“We believe that Juniper’s announced intention to acquire NetScreen was a shot across the bow to other companies that alliances, (mergers and acquisitions) and partnership would be increasingly important to compete in the enterprise space,” analysts at SG Cowen wrote in a research note today.

Elsewhere in the network market, Cisco has a relationship with IBM , SG Cowen noted.

For Enterasys, a descendant of the former Cabletron Systems, the Lucent agreement will help raise its profile and sales opportunities. Still, it’s early in the partnership and significant sales through the Lucent agreement aren’t likely for several quarters, SG Cowen said.

“Enterprise customers will have a one-stop shot for advanced secure network solutions and security services,” Mark Aslett, Enterasys’ president said.

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