3Com Continues Transition With Security Play

Earlier this year, 3Com brought its enterprise-focused H3C line to North America from China, signaling that the the struggling former enterprise networking powerhouse had found a renewed focus on larger deployments after years of ignoring the enterprise stateside.

And Monday, Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com revealed plans to tie together the H3C networking and TippingPoint security lines to create an integrated network security fabric.

Along with embedding its TippingPoint security tools into the H3C networking gear, 3Com also revealed on Monday that it is releasing a host of new firewalls under the H3C brand.

The ultimate goal is for 3Com to offer a secure network fabric that integrates 3Com's TippingPoint IPS systems and the H3C network and security solutions to offer security, network infrastructure and policy management in a single framework, said David Larson, 3Com's vice president of integrated product strategy.

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Larson said the network fabric will be managed by a centralized policy management system that offers a single view of security devices and networking operations, allowing for swift implementation and deployment of security policies to security enforcement systems.

The TippingPoint-H3C integration is expected sometime in the first half of 2010. It will include security appliances and security blades for H3C network chassis; TippingPoint IPS blades and H3C security modules embedded into the infrastructure; and a unified network and security management framework based on TippingPoint's Security Management System (SMS) and H3C's Intelligent Management Center (IMC) spanning all security devices, Larson said. The integration also will incorporate TippingPoint's Digital Vaccine and DVLabs vulnerability analysis, discovery and protection into the H3C networking portfolio.

3Com's channel will also be able to take advantage of the integration via the ability to offer a full-fledged networking and security framework instead of point products, 3Com added.

The security and network integration is also a slap at the competition, including networking and security powerhouses like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and others. According to 3Com, building TippingPoint IPS into its networking gear can offer 30 percent to 40 percent total cost of ownership savings compared to the competition. In addition, 3Com said it has "leapfrogged Cisco in security with similar performance but with less cost and four times less rack space and power."

Along with outlining its future plans for network security, 3Com Monday released several H3C-branded VPN firewalls for edge, core and data center networks. The H3C SecPath F-Series and H3C SecBlade VPN firewalls are generally available in the U.S. now, after having been available for the past year in China.

The H3C SecPath family is a group of stand-alone security appliances that offer firewall performance form the core to the edge and between 200 Mbps and 40 Gbps. The SecPath F5000-A5 modular security chassis can deliver line-rate protection for multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections, while taking up half the space and a fraction of the power of competitive firewall offerings, Larson said.

Meanwhile, the H3C SecBlade modules are built for the H3C Switch 9500E and Switch 7500 E Ethernet chassis, plus the Switch 5820 flexible stack family. Each blade can offer 6.5 Gbps to 8 Gbps of firewall performance.

The new H3C firewalls run on H3C's Comware operating system and are manageable via the IMC console. The appliance and blade firewall products offer stateful packet inspection firewall filtering and enable users to create multiple zones and separate firewall instances on the same device to create "virtual firewalls." The H3C firewalls can also look into encrypted IPsec VPN tunnels for attacks; prioritize traffic based on policies for QoS; and block specific traffic like Active-X and certain e-mail attachments.

Larson said the entire H3C SecPath F-Series is available now with the SecPath F1000 starting at less than $10,000 and the F5000-A5 starting at less than $100,000. The H3C SecBlade VPN Firewall Modules are currently available for the 7500E chassis. Blades for the 5820 and 9500E chassis are scheduled for the fourth calendar quarter of 2009. The SecBlade modules start at less than $25,000.