Partners Praise 3Com Growth Plan

3Com is making the right move, said some solution provider partners of the venerable networking player.

"I think to be a player in networking today you have to have the full range of products, so I'm glad that 3Com is committed to moving in that direction," said Cary Vea, president of Polytron, a San Martin, Calif.-based 3Com partner.

"It's an exciting time for 3Com," added Glenn Conley, president and CEO of Metropark Communications, a 3Com partner based in Saint Louis. "I've always felt that the 3Com sweet spot was too small. Now we'll be able to go after the medium and high level play."

Still, after exiting the high-end enterprise switching market in 2000, "3Com needs to make some positive strides to get back in the enterprise business," Conley said.

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Vea concurred: "It really hurt the business when they pulled out of the enterprise market before," he said. "It's going to take some time to gain the confidence of those customers."

Under the deal, 3Com licensed rights to the CommWorks patents and intellectual property it sold to UTStarcom. 3Com plans to leverage those licenses to expand into higher-end data and voice offerings to enable 3Com and its solution provider partners to compete more effectively for midsize to large customers, said Anik Bose, 3Com's vice president of corporate development.

3Com plans to enter new markets such as IP storage, Layer 4-7 switching, 10 Gigabit switching and modular switching as well as expand its offerings in emerging technologies such as IP telephony, security, wireless, Gigabit switching and Layer 3 switching, Bose said.

3Com partners said CommWorks' IP softswitch will become part of 3Com's NBX IP telephony line, providing a high-end enterprise solution to complement the small and mid sized solutions already available.

While he declined to give specific details, Bose did confirm that the upgrade to 3Com's NBX IP PBX would take the platform from a maximum of 1,500 users to "tens of thousands" of users.

3Com Tuesday reached an agreement for UTStarcom to acquire selected assets of CommWorks for about $100 million in cash. UTStarcom is an Alameda, Calif.-based telecom equipment vendor with a significant presence in China. The deal is expected to close in 60 to 120 days, the companies said.