3Com paves the road to the land of gig E

Keeping on par with its strategy to help the enterprise improve scalability and efficiency, 3Com Canada last month introduced a medley of gigabit Ethernet products built atop an existing portfolio of modular and stackable LAN switches and network interface cards (NICs).

The Mississauga, Ont.-based company said the seven new products offer customers a migration to gigabit Ethernet with less cost and complexity.

“The market is adopting gigabit Ethernet fairly rapidly, and there are a couple of reasons for that,” said Nick Tidd, managing director for 3Com Canada. “First, the abundance of information that is being presented to people on a daily basis is demanding bigger pipes. It is also demanding traffic be prioritized. We are starting to see the convergence become reality of voice, video and data. When you move into that type of portfolio of challenges, the necessity for gigabit becomes that much more important.”

New on the list of products are two additions to 3Com’s 4900 SuperStack 3 Switch series of products. The SuperStack 3 Switch 4924 and 4950 are fixed configuration multi-layer gigabit Ethernet switches. The 4924 provides 24 switched 10/100/1000 ports for the high performance server farm and the wiring closet of enterprise networks. The 4950 provides 24 12 x 10/100/1000, 6 x 1000Base-SX x GBIC ports in a single integrated platform, which enables the high performance and media flexibility – copper or fibre – to the server farm, the building as well as the campus backbone. Both the 4924 and 4950 include an expansion slot to accommodate optional Switch 4900 modules.

“Both these switches as well as the current 4900 offer non-blocking wire speed technology,” Tidd said. “Essentially that means that each and every port is passing through the maximum amount of capacity that it possibly can. You are not finding that one range of ports is any slower than another range. In an enterprise perspective, they are looking to overcome bottlenecks so they are looking for true wire speed.”

3Com has also released Layer 3 software for the 4900 family to enhance performance, provide network control and security, and offer logical segmentation of networks based on VPNs. The software available for free download at 3Com’s Web site.

The company also announced gigabit Ethernet starter kits and modules for Switch 4005, which Tidd said basically gives customers the ability to configure a chassis-based switch right out of the box.

“The 4005 gives the customer the ability to gave redundant switching fabrics and gives them more aggregation so they can get up to the 124 gigabits of switching capacity. It also supports a much larger range of Ethernet ports,” he said.

Copper gigabit Ethernet capability has been added to the Switch 4007 to provide high-density gigabit Ethernet aggregation up to 54 ports, the company said. Tidd said that the switch is designed for customers running IPX or AppleTalk.

3Com has also released three new NICs, which can be installed for an instant network upgrade or as part of a gigabit Ethernet network migration strategy.

The 3C1000-T gigabit Ethernet NIC for desktops combines faster throughput with standards-based remote control to improve performance, reliability and manageability over existing Cat 5 network infrastructures. The 3C996B-T gigabit Ethernet server NIC offers scalable migration from Ethernet and Fast Ethernet that uses existing Cat 5 network infrastructure. The Gigabit Fibre 3C996-SX server NIC offers improved data security, longer cabling distances and better noise resistance as well as a tenfold throughput increase over Fast Ethernet.

The 3Com product releases have hit the market at a sweet spot, according to Albert Daoust, networking analyst for Toronto-based Evans Research. He said that gigabit is becoming urgent to acquire.

“It is not only inevitable, it has become urgent that people move (to gigabit),” Daoust said. “Anything 3Com releases will sell. Their market mass is so good as is the overall history of quality and history of support, that these products will inevitably succeed.”

Daoust also noted that businesses not offering gigabit right now are severely behind the market.

The 3Com gigabit Ethernet products will be available this month. For more information, visit http://www.3Com.com.