317 Percent Growth? In NAC? Huh? - InformationWeek

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7/2/2009
02:51 PM
Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson
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317 Percent Growth? In NAC? Huh?

This week Enterasys announced its NAC business had grown 317 percent year over year, which seemed unfathomable given Dark Reading's report (using Infonetics research) that NAC appliances have been hardest hit by this year's economic woes.

This week Enterasys announced its NAC business had grown 317 percent year over year, which seemed unfathomable given Dark Reading's report (using Infonetics research) that NAC appliances have been hardest hit by this year's economic woes.Poor financial quarters or being a late entrant into a market could explain such massive growth, but Enterasys is a long-time NAC player - since 2004, in fact. The company's release claims a doubling of its client base in the past year, and a company spokesperson said that customer growth has been steady, and upward from the beginning.

Enterasys is privately held, so there's no way to confirm any of this, nor to make any measurable comparisons. Perhaps this year saw a few massive customer orders, or maybe the numbers until now have been miniscule.

Or, just maybe Enterasys is doing well.

Infonetics put much of the NAC market downturn on the financial services sector, a big early NAC customer. But a market size of $48m in the first quarter is truly alarming - this isn't even the going investment bank severance package. Enterasys claims to have diversified from its earlier customer base (higher education and financial organizations) to healthcare, government, retail and insurance; other NAC companies claim to be diversifying similarly.

Despite the years of NAC propaganda, it is still a nascent market. Infonetics projects a market size of $700m by 2013. That's still not huge, and it's four years away.

Opus One's Joel Snyder, who follows the NAC market pretty religiously (he gives talks at conferences like Interop) told me that people are just beginning to understand the value and intricacy of NAC, but testing and deploying it takes so much time, and they are only "now beginning to get their projects moving." He's not surprised that a solid player like Enterasys (even competing with Cisco, Microsoft and Juniper) is starting to see orders.

Having followed the fits and starts of Enterasys over the years, especially after its spinout from Cabletron, I'd be thrilled if these numbers weren't just spreadsheet gymnastics.

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