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Some VARs were a little surprised HP chose 3com at all with so many other potential targets.
"I'm a little surprised HP didn't buy someone like Juniper," said one solution provider, who asked not to be identified. "Don't get me wrong, I see how 3com makes sense and I definitely see the appeal of TippingPoint, but Juniper is ripe. So, for that matter, is a ShoreTel, which HP could scale up, maybe, to get it more awareness."
Juniper came up frequently in Channelweb.com interviews Wednesday and Thursday. While Juniper recently declared it would be focusing more on research and development than potential M&A, a number of solution providers continue to question that strategy, saying it hurts Juniper's ability to compete with HP and Cisco.
"Juniper has every feature you could possibly pack into a product, and performance to boot," said Gulling. "Maybe they acquire or buy somebody like a D-Link or an Extreme [Networks]. There's really no one else left. Ethernet swtiching and routing is getting commoditized -- you're seeing fewer choices and better scaling. There's no better mousetrap in switches, which is why the HP-3com thing makes even more sense. It's about scale. Cisco is at a disavantage there because their stuff is hugely expensive."
Juniper did not respond to request for comment in time for publication.
Still more observers believe HP's growth through 3com and otherwise are also enough to concern other industry titans like IBM, and also HP's strategic alliance with networking partners like Alcatel-Lucent.
"The alliance calls for HP and Alcatel-Lucent to address mid- and large-sized enterprises and public sector organizations with joint solutions that are based on Alcatel-Lucent's IP telephony, unified communications, mobility, security and contact centers offerings and integrated with HP's IT solutions. The plan is to offer these joint solutions to enterprises through HP resellers or as managed services," wrote John Byrne, a director at Technology Business Research, in a Thursday research note. "Adding 3Com's products to the joint solutions will strengthen them, but may also preclude Alcatel-Lucent's data networking product line from further downsizing to meet enterprise needs as part of the combined offer."
Regardless of the outside competition, say VARs, a price war between Cisco and HP is, in the words of one solution provider, "pretty much inevitable."
"Cisco's been acquiring like mad, but I don't know if it's been buying the right people," said one provider. "But HP can totally blow it by not seeing the potential in 3Com's stuff, blending in a few things, and calling it a day. If they start undercutting each other on everything we [VARs] sell, the channel is going to suffer. If we have to chose sides, the channel is going to suffer."
"It comes down to good channel companies," added Essayian, who with KME System sells HP, 3com and Cisco. "If I'm put in that position where I have to choose, I go with HP and 3com. HP has great people supporting me. 3com has great people supporting me. Cisco has good people supporting me. Great over good."
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