Bear Stearns had networking vision and nous

The collapsed bank was an innovative early-adopter

While most will remember Bear Stearns for the its collapse and subsequent acquisition by JPMorgan Chase, those of us covering the networking industry for the past couple of decades will remember the company for its showcase network.

For years, especially during the 1990s, Bear Stearns was a go-to company when it came to finding out what IT pros thought about the latest and greatest technology from Bay Networks, Northern Telecom, Lucent and Microsoft. In fact, Network World magazine even awarded the company its 1996 user excellence award for a network that embraced datacentre consolidation, OC-48 ATM and VLANs.

The magazine commented at the time: "Consider the steps Bear Stearns has undertaken in recent months. The company is planning to nail up a second OC-48 fibre ring in the metropolitan New York area, linking company headquarters on Park Avenue to a Whippany, New Jersey datacentre and to a backup trading floor operation in Brooklyn. And, by next June, the financial giant will string up two additional OC-48 loops with the ability to add four more down the road."

Then-CTO Jeff Marshall was considered the bearer of the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for networking equipment vendors looking for an endorsement of their latest products.

The two top guys in the network shop — Marshall and Ken Starkey — eventually moved on to head a green computing company and help run Fidelity Investments' network.

In 2001, Network World wrote about Bear Stearns' move to a new datacentre and its implementation of VoIP, and what it would take to manage its new network. The company moved into a new 43-floor Manhattan high-rise equipped with IP-based voice, data and video over Gigabit Ethernet for 4,300 employees, and monitored by more than 150 Sniffer Distributed network appliances from Network Associates.

Managing this network was actually easier than managing the circuit-switched ISDN network Bear Stearns left behind because it required fewer network management tools and specialists.

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