3Com piles on affordability with new SuperStack

3Com Corp.’s latest line of managed switches will strike a chord with Canadian customers, says the firm’s country director.

3Com last month unveiled the SuperStack 3 Switch 4200 family – two switches that should speak to network administrators in this country, said Nick Tidd, 3Com Canada’s managing director in Mississauga, Ont.

“A lot of the Canadian networks fall into the domain of customers that would evaluate the 4200…[It’s] targeted at those not really looking for all of the functionality, but looking for a highly-affordable switching solution.”

The 4226T and 4250T employ technology that puts them above 3Com’s current baby switch, the 3300, but the newcomers lack the detailed traffic prioritization found in its up-class 4400.

With a nod to Prime Minister William Lyon-Mackenzie King’s theory concerning Canada’s WWII forces (“Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription”), Tidd said the new switches are meant for large, small companies and small, large companies. The 4200 family was designed for small businesses on the verge of becoming medium-sized businesses, and big businesses not quite members of the Fortune 500.

“Essentially the target market for this family is customers looking for managed, fixed-configuration LAN switching but are not looking for advanced functionality, such as traffic prioritization,” Tidd said. “It’s very appealing for those looking for highly-affordable 10/100 switching solutions.”

The 4226T offers 24 10/100 ports and two 10/100/1000 downlink ports. The larger 4250T has 48 10/100 ports and two 10/100/1000 downlink ports.

Unlike the 3300, the 4200 line offers wirespeed data transfer rates, whereby packets come into and go out of the switch at the same pace.

“You want to remove bottlenecks, which typically take place at the switch,” Tidd said. “That’s why things like wirespeed are very important.”

But what’s even more important to at least one 3Com customer is uniformity. That’s why when it comes time to upgrade Boston University Medical Center’s (BUMC) network, Graham Ward plans to replace non-3Com gear with switches like the 4200, “so we have as much uniformity as possible, especially with our floor switches.”

Ward, the BUMC’s director of information technology, said consistency spells ease-of-management.

“If anything goes down, if we keep three extra switches, in 20 minutes we can be back up and running again. If there were several different types of switches, then we would have to keep three of one, three of another and three of yet another.”

Tidd said simple management is part and parcel of 3Com’s new switching line. The 4226T and 4250T offer two queues per port for some traffic prioritization. A stacking kit (to be sold separately in late-2002) connects numerous 4200s together for greater port density and single-point control.

“Our philosophy is, we should be able to offer that scalability to our customers, to ensure we have the best product in each category,” Tidd said.

To that end, 3Com also said that its latest unmanaged switch would be available in mid August. The SuperStack Baseline 3 Switch 48 offers 48 10/100 ports and two 10/100/1000 downlink ports. Unlike the 4200s, Baseline switches do not offer baubles like minimal traffic prioritization, port queuing or IP configuration functions.

The 4226T, available now, is priced at $1,492.50. The 4250T, also available now, costs $2,992.50. 3Com’s latest Baseline switch will cost $1,792.50. For more information, see 3Com’s Web site at http://www.3com.com.