3Com and CrossBeam partner on security

A partnership announced Monday will allow networking company 3Com Corp. to sell security switches by Crossbeam Systems Inc. to companies under the 3Com brand name.

The partnership is part of a long-term strategy by 3Com to please security-conscious customers while it pursues a plan to build security into a new generation of 3Com switches and routers, said Anik Bose, 3Com vice-president of corporate business development.

Under the agreement, 3Com will market and sell the Crossbeam C30 and X45 security services switches to medium-size and large enterprises worldwide.

Crossbeam’s X30 is a rack-mounted security appliance that provides firewall, intrusion protection, content scanning and virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. The X30 has two gigabit Ethernet and 16 10/100Mbps interfaces and ships with a hardened Linux operating system.

Using proprietary system software and flow scheduling technology, Crossbeam’s products allow customers to pick and choose security applications to run on the box and to run multiple instances of those applications simultaneously on the same device, according to Peter George, chief executive officer of CrossBeam.

The X45, which Crossbeam has not formally announced, is a “little brother” to the company’s original X40 Security Services Switch. With features similar to the C30 and X40, the X45 will come with fewer expansion slots for adding additional functions to the device, George said.

The decision to partner with Crossbeam comes as 3Com focuses on security, in addition to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and wireless technology as key growth areas. 3Com is responding to customer demands for network security products that are integrated and easy to use, Bose said.

“People don’t want a lot of different boxes lying around,” he said.

3Com considered developing an integrated security product itself, but decided on partnering with the company while it pursues a long-term strategy to integrate security functions with its network switches and routers, he said.

3Com is not ready to discuss the details of its long-term strategy now, but plans to brief industry experts about its plans before the end of 2003 and release a product road map before the end of 2004, Bose said.

For the time being, however, the Crossbeam technology will allow 3Com to offer customers a single box that can provide an integrated, “end to end” security product on a single hardware platform, Bose said.

The Crossbeam products also have the advantage of running existing third-party software, including products from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Internet Security Systems Inc. and Trend Micro Inc. That means 3Com customers can move existing licenses over to the C30 or X45 platform, he said.

For Crossbeam of Concord, Mass., the partnership with 3Com is a way to take advantage of the networking company’s large customer base and channel, George said.

“That global reach is a perfect complement to our technology,” he said.

3Com will handle sales and support of the Crossbeam products, with Crossbeam making its support staff available for high-level support, George said.