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Cabletron to sell via Ingram Micro

The direct sales stalwart signs a deal to provide its products through distributor Ingram Micro.

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.

That's evidently the strategy Cabletron Systems (CS) has adopted to expand distribution of its products. The company, a direct sales stalwart, has signed an agreement to provide its products to highly regarded indirect distributor Ingram Micro (IM), the first such foray into alternative channels in some time for the Rochester, New Hampshire-based networking equipment vendor.

The deal indicates that Cabletron is willing to expand its sales strategy to compete with the other networking giants, including a unified 3Com and U.S. Robotics monolith that could change everyone's strategy in the networking space. The agreement will initially include low-end Cabletron offerings and expand to include the entire product line, including Cabletron's Spectrum network management software platform.

"Our core business philosophy has been to go primarily direct," said Bob Olson, Cabletron's international marketing manager. "[The change] represents a willingness to embrace distribution channels."

Previous attempts to expand beyond the company's direct sales model have been unsuccessful. Cabletron's direct sales force often collided with indirect partners, straining relationships with everyone. Olson said this latest attempt will allow Cabletron's direct sales force to concentrate on large accounts while distributors market to the company's smaller businesses.

Analysts said Cabletron's Ingram Micro deal could be the first sign of a new heavyweight in the indirect sales channel if Cabletron plays its cards right. The company could offer a compelling alternative to veterans like 3Com and Bay Networks.