3Com intros stacks of Web appliances

Santa Clara, Calif.-based 3Com Corp. released in July two new product lines under its SuperStack 3 brand name as well as a new version of its SuperStack 3 Firewall.

The two new lines are the SuperStack 3 Webcache and the SuperStack 3 Server Load Balancer, both of which come in two versions.

The SuperStack 3 Webcache 1000 and 3000 are targeted at two different sizes of enterprise. The Webcache 1000 can support up to 300 users, and the Webcache 3000 supports more than 300 users, said Robert Pitton, a network consultant at 3Com Canada in Mississauga, Ont. The product, which stores Web pages and objects locally on the LAN to make page loading faster, is run by a Web interface and be up and running out of the box in 15 minutes, assuming the default configuration is used, Pitton said.

By asking a few simple questions in the installation wizard, it makes it “very easy to get the Webcache up and running,” Pitton said.

The Webcache 3000 also offers storage redundancy. While the Webcache 1000 is capable of supporting one hard drive for storing local files, the 3000 can support up to three dedicated hard drives, Pitton said.

The SuperStack 3 Server Load Balancer and Server Load Balancer Plus are products dedicated to managing network traffic across servers. The Server version is capable of maintaining up to 16,000 simultaneous connections while the Server Plus version can support up to 122,000 simultaneous connections, Pitton said.

“We offer some security to prevent denial of service attacks that’s built into the Server Load Balancer,” Pitton said.

Version 2.0 of the SuperStack 3 Firewall contains a number of new features that weren’t in the original version, which launched in December 2000. The most important feature, according to Pitton, is the new resilient firewall architecture, which adds a redundant firewall for situations when the primary firewall fails for whatever reason.

“So there’s no longer a single point of failure in the firewall,” Pitton said.

The firewall has a LAN and a WAN port, and is managed through a Web interface. He added the interface is very easy to use and is similar in structure to the software that come with the Webcache and the load balancer.

“We tried to keep the same theme across all the Web appliances,” Pitton said.

It’s also easy to install, he said. By using the default configuration, the firewall can be up and running within 15 minutes. Users with a little bit of advanced knowledge can go in and customize the firewall’s configuration, he said.

Other key features included in the new version are a simplified virtual private network (VPN) client that’s easier to deploy, enhanced logging and diagnostic features and automated software notification that will check 3Com’s Web site for software upgrades. The software notification is also capable of downloading and installing the upgrade.

According to Toronto-based International Data Corp. (IDC) Canada’s Alan Freedman, research manager for servers, workstations and storage, the SuperStack 3 products are 3Com’s entrance into the emerging Web appliances market.

“They’re really following the lead of many of the server vendors,” Freedman said. The SuperStack 3 products fit into the company’s overall strategy, he added.

The SuperStack 3 Webcaches and SuperStack 3 Server Load Balancers are available now. The Webcache starts at $7,499, and the Load Balancer starts at $13,495. The SuperStack 3 Firewall is priced at $7,4999 and the version 2.0 free upgrade will be available by the end of the summer.