IBM is developing its own Ethernet products for the small and medium enterprise (SME) market, putting a question mark over its OEM deals with 3Com and Xylan.
On 9 June Big Blue will set out its strategy to make its own range of Ethernet products including Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet devices and Layer 3 switches. However, the products will not hit the shelves until the end of this year or early next year.
?There is a change in strategy. In the past we?ve struck OEM deals. The new strategy is to invest in IBM home developed technology,? said Christoph Cannamela, IBM?s European product manager for Lan switches.
Though he would not reveal which products or suppliers would lose out, he said IBM?s self-developed tools would replace ?some? existing lines currently available from IBM.
IBM has been accused by indusry watchers of being late into the mass Ethernet market, although it does develop and sell high end systems, such as the 8260 and the 8264 multiprotocol switches, for corporate customers.
?We want to establish a presence in Ethernet by investing research and development into Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and Layer 3 Gigabit switches,? said Cannamela.
The first component of its Gigabit Ethernet plans will be a range of adapter cards for IBM servers, to arrive at the end of the year. It will also launch a range of Gigabit uplink daughter cards for its existing Fast Ethernet switches.
By next year it will also unveil a range of Gigabit Ethernet backbone switches using its Prizma technology, currently used in the 8260 and 8264 ATM switches.
Mark Hollister, channel director for 3Com Europe, said he was confident 3Com's relationship with IBM would remain intact because it focuses primarily on enterprise users, not SMEs.
He said: "The relationship goes back four or five years. We expect this to continue because it is for our stackable products, which are aimed at enterprise users [firms with 500-plus employees], so that does not conflict with what IBM is developing."
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