3Com Makeover Features Security

Hardware vendor is using TippingPoint's security expertise to shake off its consumer image

June 6, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

CHICAGO Supercomm 2005 – 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) will use the Supercomm tradeshow here this week to bolster an image overhaul.

In an effort to get enterprise IT to take it more seriously, 3Com is unveiling a roster of new products based on its $430 million purchase of TippingPoint Technologies Inc. 3Com hopes the new enterprise network security gear will raise its enterprise profile and help shake off its image as a gadget vendor (see 3Com Closes TippingPoint Buy and 3Com's Enterprise Challenge).

3Com is using TippingPoint IPS (intrusion prevention system) devices to add a new network quarantine feature to its switch range. The IPS boxes will be connected to 3Com switches and a security management server, which sets specific security policies. The IPS can detect threats from client software such as Windows XP, then automatically redirect the traffic to a virtual local-area network (VLAN), where it is “quarantined."

"It brings the IPS functionality right to the access switch," says Andy Salo, 3Com's director of product management.

Why not embed IPS security directly into the 3Com switches? "That's conceivable," says Stanley Stevens, 3Com’s senior product manager for switching and routing, "but we haven't announced anything yet."3Com also unveiled some new switch products today, including a new stackable 5500 switch that comes in 24- and 48-port flavors for 10/100- and Gigabit-Ethernet. And vendor has launched a new rackmounted power unit to support power over Ethernet (POE), boosting the 5500’s power capacity from 7.5 to 15.4 watts.

The 1U-high device comes in at the top end of 3Com’s stackable switch family and, unlike its previous high-end boxes, the 4400 and 3870, offers Layer 3 routing.

Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com also launched two new chassis-based switches today. These include the four-slot, 8U-high 7754 and the 7-slot, 11U-high 7757. Whereas the company's old 7700 device could support up to 120 Gigabit ports, 3Com says the new models can scale up to more than 292.

Stevens tells NDCF that a second backplane on the new switches has helped boost scaleability. Like the 5500, the 7750 boxes offer POE capability.

Despite this slew of announcements, 3Com finds itself up against some stiff competition in the switching space from the likes of Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). And, as ever, the enterprise is the battlefield.“From a competitive standpoint, the features and functions are there -- it’s just a question of convincing people that they are an enterprise competitor,” says Robert Whiteley, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. ”I think that it’s possible but it’s going to be difficult."

Other competitors face a similar challenge, he adds, pointing to Extreme and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), not to mention the growing presence of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (NYSE: HPQ) ProCurve division (see Foundry Faces Tough Times and HP Expands Switch Family).

As part of its master plan, 3Com will launch an "awareness campaign" in the fall focused on secure, converged networking. “We made a conscious effort to roll it out in the fall timeframe, not the summer timeframe when everybody is on vacation,” says Stevens.

3Com also recently appointed a new global vice president of sales and services, after spending a number of months searching for the right candidate. Prior to the appointment of former Lotus exec James Fieger, 3Com CEO Bruce Claflin had been responsible for the role.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights