3Com touts smarter networks

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3Com touts smarter networks

3Com has put competitor Cisco squarely in its sights with the launch of its “networking vision” at its Partner Conference on the Gold Coast.

3Com has put competitor Cisco squarely in its sights with the launch of its “networking vision” at its Partner Conference on the Gold Coast.

In front of about 100 partners, 3Com vice president of technology Pat Rudolph, said the vendor had been working toward the “revolution” of networks.

This entailed deploying smarter networks without having to overhaul existing infrastructure from networking rivals like Cisco.

Rudolph said issues of access, attacks and applications were forcing a rethink of how networks were managed. 3Com’s response was to move toward a bi-planar approach.

This strategy featured a connectivity, or network hardware plane and over the top, a control plane to manage network access, attacks and applications.

“It’s strange to hear this from an infrastructure vendor but the connectivity plane is becoming commoditised as the features between vendors are much the same,” Rudolph said.

Through providing a management platform, which was capable of also working on rival vendor hardware, 3Com would effectively be able to add value to a commoditised market.

It would also stand a better chance at being able to sell in its own range of higher-end switches, routers and related technologies like VoIP, Rudolph said.

The new network smarts would run via the company’s Network Control Point (NCP) product which was capable of networking speeds of between 50Mb/s and 60Gb/s.

The box operates on the premise that all traffic coming into the network is “dirty” unless filtered through the NCP. Once controlled, cleaned and prioritised for use, the NCP sends off the traffic for use by applications on the network, Rudolph said.

3Com wireless systems product line manager Richard Edgar, expected plenty of action in the wireless LAN market, with expectations that the WLAN market would be worth US$3 billion in 2008.

In moving from a thick to thin approach – where networking intelligence was built into the wireless switch rather than the access point – access points sales were also expected to dramatically increase.

The vendor also expected to begin offering 802.11n product to SMB and SOHO customers shortly, but would withhold offering them to enterprise customers until Q1 2007, when the 802.11n standard is expected to be ratified, Edgar said.

While the 3Com’s thin access vision had been seen before in other vendors, the bi-planar strategy was likely to open the door to more end-to-end sales and higher margins for partners, IDC telecommunications analyst, Shing Quah, said.

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