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Cabletron buys frame relay help

Cabletron Systems acquires frame relay specialist Netlink in an effort to control a chunk of the remote access over frame relay market.

Cabletron Systems (CS) is making a play for a chunk of the remote access over frame relay market with the acquisition of the Framingham, Massachusetts-based Netlink for approximately $180 million in stock.

Netlink, a privately held vendor, has focused on linking information over frame relay to remote offices and corporate branches removed from central sites.

Netlink fills the customer gap in Cabletron's product line for permanent remote access connections over frame relay, according to Wade Appleman, the company's director of advanced product engineering.

The worldwide frame relay market is expected to more than triple by 1999 to $11.2 billion, according to Vertical Systems, a market research firm. Frame relay is one of the fastest growing remote access methods to link multiprotocol local area networks (LAN) over a wide area network (WAN).

Netlink has focused on offering switch-based remote access frame relay solutions.

The Netlink products will also transition smoothly into Cabletron's portfolio. "They have a common hardware architecture to ours," Appleman noted.

That will allow for a quick port of Cabletron's SecureFast switching software architecture to the Netlink platforms. SecureFast enables virtual routing and lets customers restrict access to WAN links and provides them with a network accounting bill as well.

The merger is expected to be completed by year's end. Netlink has 80 employees and Cabletron officials have said Netlink will continue at the same site as a separate division of the company.

This move follows Cabletron's May acquisition of Network Express, an ISDN remote access company, for $118 million in stock.