3Com Confirms Huawei Switch Plans


3Com Wednesday plans to deepen its push into the enterprise networking space with the launch of the modular Switch 7700, a Layer 3 LAN core switch.

As first reported by CRN last week, the networking hardware vendor is OEMing the switch from Huawei, the Chinese vendor involved in a patent infringement suit with Cisco Systems.

The 3Com Switch 7700 is a high-performance, Layer 3 modular LAN switch for campus core applications and supports convergence of voice, video and data with Quality of Service (QoS), bandwidth management and high-density Gigabit and Fast Ethernet, said Patrick Guay, vice president, LAN infrastructure at 3Com. The switch is also 10-gigabit capable, he said.

Slated to be unveiled Wednesday, the switch is "only the beginning," Guay said. The company is developing a full product roadmap based on the platform, he said.

The seven-slot starter kit for the 7700 will have a U.S. list price of $21,995, 3Com said. In general, the switch will price out from 15 percent to 40 percent less than competing solutions from Cisco, Guay said. The 7700 is designed to compete head-to-head with Cisco's Catalyst 4500 series switches, he said.

Glenn Perkal, vice president of Albuquerque, N.M., solution provider Integrity Networking Systems, called the 7700 platform a "good midrange chassis that will work well as a core product for midsize enterprise customers." The switch "will give us the opportunity to do more for our customers that are looking for more capability at a lower price," Perkal said.

The 7700 is a solid offering to go against Cisco's Catalyst 4500 and Extreme Network's Alpine switch line, Perkal said, but "we still have customers that will only buy Cisco," he added.

Integrity sells Cisco and Foundry gear as well as 3Com.

While Perkal said he is excited about the launch of the 7700, scheduled for late July, he is looking forward to more products from the 3Com-Huawei joint venture.

"This is just the beginning. There are a lot more products to come on the higher end that we're excited about," he said. "I'm especially happy to see a company like 3Com enter the router market. The fact that somebody else is making a major play in the router market is a good thing for everybody."

Dave Smith, vice president of sales at 3Com, said the company will recruit its current Gold and Silver partners to sell the new switch line. "There is a good portion of our partner base that can scale to this market right now," he said. Many 3Com partners have been selling other products into the enterprise space because 3Com didn't offer any, Smith said.

"Our channel partners will now be able to compete in this market with a lower acquisition cost and still have higher product margins," he said. "We also expect an influx of new partners who are tired of competing for low or no margins."

Unlike other 3Com switches, partners will have to undergo training and be certified to sell the new modular line, Smith said. 3Com plans to sponsor a large national training session in late July, he said.

3Com also plans Wednesday to unveil the XRN GBIC Fabric Interconnect, a new method of XRN technology implementation that enables customers to extend XRN connections across distances up to 70 kilometers. Launched last year, 3Com's XRN connects stackable switches, allowing them to be managed as a single switch fabric. The XRN GBIC Fabric Interconnect is expected to be available in September and be part of a chargeable software upgrade.

3Com also plans to introduce the Switch 4070, an XRN-enabled switch that lets IT managers to dictate the mixture of 1000BASE SX and 1000BASE LX ports to meet their specific requirements, using SFP transceivers. The Switch 4070 is expected to be available in July at a list price of $8,995.

As well, 3Com will announce Wednesday that it plans to add new enterprise-level capabilities on its Gigabit Ethernet switches to support the advanced enterprise routing protocol OSPF.

As for the lawsuit between Cisco and Huawei, Perkal said he isn't worried. "3Com guaranteed us they would bring products to market that would not be affected by this suit, and I believe them," he said.

3Com last week asked the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, Texas, to intervene in the litigation between Cisco and Huawei. 3Com asked the court to declare that the products it OEMs from Huawei and later sells through a planned joint venture do not infringe on Cisco's intellectual property. Also last week, Huawei asked the court to declare that its new products do not infringe Cisco's Intellectual property.

3Com in said in March that it had formed a joint venture with Huawei to produce a high-end line of enterprise switches and routers.

Last week's moves follow a preliminary injunction issued by the court June 6 that bars Huawei from selling products that use Cisco documentation, online help files and source code. Huawei said it already has pulled the products in question from U.S. markets.