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Dobson said the new H3C program will focus on partners that already have resources targeting large enterprise accounts. While he said some existing 3Com partners will join, it is not exclusive to them. The program will be designed around training, service and sales support. It will offer partners access to lead generation, market development funds, training and promotions along with a one-on-one sales to sales engineer ratio.
"Our fundamental go-to-market strategy has not changed," said Dobson. "We're really regaining the intimacy that we lost."
Dobson said the projected revenue requirement for the H3C program is currently $5 million to $10 million annually.
"We're not in a rush to roll this out to hundreds of companies," he said.
Dobson said 3Com's renewed focus on the enterprise is not a last-ditch effort by the Marlborough, Mass.-based company to recapture share after a rocky 2008, which saw 3Com oust global channel chief Nick Tidd and his team in a bid to take a more regional, geography-based channel approach. Shortly after Tidd's departure, a pending merger transaction with investment firm Bain Capital Partners, which many thought would steady 3Com's course, went bust. Later in the year, 3Com president and CEO Edgar Masri was replaced with board member Robert Mao.
3Com hopes H3C will create the spark it needs to capture the enterprise business it lost when the 3Com brand was altered to focus on the SME and SMB spaces, which included 3Com discontinuing its enterprise-focused CoreBuilder switch line in 2000, a move that upset partners and customers.
With the H3C venture, 3Com is rallying around a lower cost of ownership for high-end networking gear, something companies are seeking out during a rough economic patch.
Partners said the reinvention of 3Com is just what the company needs to kick-start sales.
"3Com has an excellent set of enterprise products now," said Don Gulling, president of Verteks Consulting, an Ocala, Fla.-based solution provider. Gulling said 3Com, however, has continually struggled with the perception that the company doesn't serve the enterprise.
"It's a good thing that they're going to reinvigorate their marketing and advertising," Gulling added. "The timing is really good in that sense."
For 3Com's new enterprise attack through H3C to be successful, however, it all depends on execution, Gulling said.
"The challenge isn't the product, the challenge is the awareness," he said. "It always has been."
Glenn Conley, president and CEO of Metropark Communications, a Chicago-based solution provider, agreed.
"They've got to do something," he said. "The 3Com brand won't scale up and the TippingPoint brand won't scale down. We're not able to walk into these big enterprises with the 3Com brand."
While a reinvention with new branding is a risk, Conley said it's necessary for 3Com to compete in an enterprise market dominated by Cisco and other vendors.
"It's a gamble, but they have to do it if they want to compete in the enterprise marketplace," he said. "3Com used to be the big bad boy on the block, and 3Com is a brand that everyone is familiar with. If 3Com is to be successful with this, they must market themselves properly."
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