3Com back in router business

After a lengthy hiatus from the router business, 3Com Corp. is jumping back in.

“For a long time, our customers have been asking us to get back into the router business,” said Nick Tidd, director of go-to-market strategy at 3Com. “We think we’ve matched Cisco (Systems Inc.) with our end-to-end offering.”

Out of the enterprise routing business since March 2000, 3Com returns with the Router 5000 family of products. Expected to begin shipping in October, the family consists of the 5009, 5231, 5640, and the 5680. All of the routers ship with the maximum memory configuration – a feature Tidd believes is a big deal to customers.

“Some vendors ship with only a base configuration and make you buy additional as you go,” Tidd said. “We ship with 2,506MB of memory, while others only start at 64MB. Customers are tired of being gouged.”

Tidd added the family of routers is standards-based and doesn’t use proprietary protocols – another advantage over Cisco, he said.

“Our feature set is comparable to Cisco’s,” Tidd said, pointing to the emphasis on security, convergence, manageability, and resilience. “We believe we have an opportunity with our existing voice customers as well as new companies looking to expand (their) networks.”

3Com also introduced 3Com Network Administrator, a management application that works with 3Com gear and equipment from other vendors.

Tidd said that the four routers announced today are focused on medium-sized enterprises and small regional offices. Later this year, 3Com will target both low-end and high-end enterprise customers with more routers.