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For the moment, said VARs, 3com is saying the right things, and not pretending the acquisition won't affect its channel business.
"The 3com guys are giving us a lot of assurance, which is generally what you'd expect for now," said Don Gulling, president of Verteks Consulting, an Ocala, Fla. solution provider. "We kind of went through this a little with the Bain thing, but that was equity buying 3com. For us, we love HP and we still love 3com, so the combination is going to be altogether better. I have a lot of clients who love HP and only want HP. HP can get the awareness out of their less known lines, like the voice stuff. If they merge those channels with [HP's] own great street relationships, you'll see a net positive effect."
HP's marketing strength can only help 3com, some solution providers argued, especially given its struggles to market itself.
"Maybe you can get a seat at more tables with 3com gear now," Gulling suggested. "And maybe HP will now get a seat at more tables that served only Cisco before."
3. How Will The Competition Respond?
With some exceptions, it's been Cisco that's been pushing the aggressive rhetoric in the ramped up battle with HP. Thanks to Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco's also been advancing on much of HP's data center territory all year.
The 3com buy shifts that aggression back to HP, said solution providers. Whether an HP-3com networking portfolio will truly throw a scare into Cisco President and CEO John Chambers, however, depends on how HP positions its new gear.
"Cisco kicks everyone's rear end by being the marketing master. That's how it's usually gone in networking," said Essayian. "But now Cisco has a heavyweight contender in the ring with them. And it's someone that has as hard a right punch as they do."
"It might give them a little indigestion," Conley said. "But if HP plays its cards right and really develops a good strong voice solution and other competitive solutions -- if they strategize it right -- that indigestion could turn into an H1N1 flu for Cisco. At the very least, there'll be indigestion. A little gas and burping."
Cisco itself has been measured about its competitive response. When responding to a request for comment from Channelweb.com, a Cisco spokesman sent along the same statement Cisco posted to a company blog Wednesday:
"While Cisco has a healthy respect for all of our competitors, acquisitions in our industry only validate the fact that networking is becoming the platform for all forms of communications and IT. As the leader in the networking market, Cisco is very confident in our business strategy, commitment to product innovation and ability to provide strategic business value to our customers in a highly competitive marketplace."
Other competitors have been more pointed in their assessments, while acknowledging what an HP-owned 3com portfolio implies for the market.
"HP's bid to acquire 3COM means it gains SMB-grade switching, IP telephony and security products," said Paul Hooper, chief marketing officer for Extreme Networks, in a statement e-mailed to Channelweb.com. "However, this appears to introduce large amounts of overlap in the two companies solutions and channels. As with the ProCurve products, 3COM has been challenged to scale into larger enterprises and data centers. Assuming the acquisition completes, Extreme Networks remains confident in the benefits of our differentiated solutions. Our single Operating System, ExtremeXOS, scales from the network edge, through the core and into the data center. This delivers the stability, simplicity, and reliability essential for the market."