3Com Flips Switch On Channel Plans

The VCX 7000, which scales to support up to 50,000 users, will create new enterprise sales opportunities for 3Com partners, solution providers said.

"It allows us to go to [companies] that wanted to buy from us but were too big before," said John Graven, COO of Computer Telephony Concepts, a solution provider based in Mentor, Ohio. "It takes us out of being an SMB provider, and that's huge," he said.

>> 3Com plans to recruit new and existing partners to join the still-developing channel program.

3Com's NBX IP-PBX line, targeted at small and midsize customers, supports up to 1,500 lines.

The vendor has been selling the VCX 7000 primarily through its direct-sales force since the product's North American launch at the end of April. The switch comes from CommWorks, the service provider business unit 3Com sold to telecom gear maker UTStarcom in March.

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3Com plans to recruit both new and existing partners to join the still-developing channel program, which will have "fairly elaborate" requirements, said John Yoon, senior director of marketing for Enterprise Voice Systems at 3Com, Marlborough, Mass.

Channel partners may find that hiring engineers who are certified for the Sun Microsystems Unix hardware,which the softswitch runs on,is cost-prohibitive, said one solution provider, who asked not to be identified.

To help overcome that obstacle, 3Com is building Sun service options into the program for partners without Sun certifications to fall back on, the solution provider said.

Partners also said that they hope 3Com will move quickly to integrate its VCX and NBX lines. 3Com's NBX products run on the Wind River VxWorks realtime operating system.

"I expect they will both eventually run on a common code base, one development environment," said Mike LeBlanc, president of LeBlanc Communications, a solution provider in Trumbull, Conn. "If somebody comes up with a great mousetrap for one product line, they shouldn't have to reinvent it for the other," he said.