A high end router-switch from 3Com, due for release next month, will spearhead the company's challenge to Cisco at the high end of the router market.
The as-yet unnamed product will deliver multiprotocol Layer 3 switching at a speed of up to 30 million packets per second and will take on the Cisco 7500 range head-on with lower prices. It will support IP, Netware IPX and Appletalk protocols and is targeted at large organisations.
But one analyst believes price will not be enough to ensure 3Com products are valued by Internet service providers, telcos and big businesses - the main customers for these high end devices - despite the company?s wide span of products.
Andy Berry, product marketing manager at 3Com UK, said: ?Most of the user community has realised that putting gigabit into a router will slow things down. Our product is using faster Asics and we?re talking about 30 million packets per seconds. Our large customers have been very excited about this.
Although it is expected to be priced below the Cisco 7500 range, which starts at $15,000 depending on configuration, that may not be enough to ensure success, said Camiel Camps, Lan and Wan analyst at IDC Europe.
He said: ?This will be difficult for 3Com. Ever since they bought Chipcom in 1995 they?ve tried to move into the high end of the market. They said then they would compete against Cisco but their share has slipped away.?
Part of the problem, he added, is that 3Com is trying to span from the high end to the low end. Camps said: ?This maybe explains why they have bought USR. Cisco is still very strong.?
A survey IDC had recently completed, he explained, showed that the Layer 3 multiswitch it will produce in September would not capture its would-be customers hearts or minds.
?We compared a lot of vendors and the general trend was that 3Com is valued by ISPs as competitive on prices but not on quality, reliability or technological advancement,? he said.
Nevertheless, Cisco is expected to respond to 3Com?s move, possibly with the buy-out of yet another Gigabit Ethernet company, according to US sources. It is widely seen as beatable in the low and medium end switching market.
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