Visual Networks Steps into E-Commerce Limelight

Visual Networks (Nasdaq: VNWK), known as one of the world’s leaders in the wide area network (WAN) management services industry, is now making a splash in the highly-lucrative e-commerce infrastructure market. The company is aiming to provide Internet-based businesses with the ability to monitor and respond to the potential loss of profitability due to network connectivity problems. Visual Networks’ new strategy may prove to be good news for online businesses, as well as for the company’s shareholders.

To date, the Rockville, Maryland-based firm has partnered with Ameritech, AT&T, Bell Atlantic, GTE Communication Systems and MCI WorldCom, and has established corporate client accounts with the likes of FedEx and Delta Air Lines.

In the following interview with the E-Commerce Times, Visual Networks President and CEO Scott Stouffer discusses his company’s bold move into the e-commerce arena, the fragile nature of the Internet, and where e-commerce operations should be focusing their priorities.

Q How would you describe the business of Visual Networks to a lay person? infrastructure. And those tiers tend to be owned and operated by different companies.

At the very core, it could be an AT&T or an MCI with the core bandwidth. There could be an ISP, UUNET or Prodigy, whoever. On top of that, there’s an application service provider like Exodus or US Internetworking that may actually be hosting a site like Amazon.

What I’m saying is that there’s a fairly complex supply chain to create an e-commerce business. When you have a supply chain and there are problems, the natural phenomenon is a lot of finger pointing and a lot of time is wasted. So, one of the things that we try to do is to permeate each element of the supply chain with robust diagnostics so that they can better have a collaborative environment, and ultimately — this is the end goal — make the e-commerce business run better.

There are many, many different software applications related to managing and optimizing infrastructure. Our company’s strategy has been to create a broad-based product portfolio. We’ve seen the market for e-commerce management software become very fragmented with a bunch of small companies, each with one little piece of the puzzle. And we’ve been pretty aggressive over the last year or so in trying to acquire and build a much broader portfolio.

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