3Com Corp. on Monday announced its highest-performance LAN switch to date, as it continues to woo large corporate users through a joint venture with Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies Co.

The 3Com Switch 7700R, made by Huawei, supports throughput of up to 96Gbps and can provide 1-second fail-over capability, said Charles Gallagher, director of product management at Marlboro, Mass.-based 3Com. He added that the 7700R is priced as much as 25 per cent less than similar switches from Cisco Systems Inc.

Although users could get similar fail-over capability by buying a pair of 3Com’s existing 7700 switches, they would have to pay US$44,000 for the two devices, Gallagher said, compared with a starting price of US$25,995 for the 7700R.

Prudential Northwest Properties, a real estate brokerage in Portland, Ore., this week plans to start installing a 7700R device that will be used to consolidate 120 ports now located on four separate switches, said CIO Sean McRae.

McRae said Prudential Northwest needs a backbone switch with the kind of performance and reliability offered by the 7700R to run its core network. Cost issues and ease of management were also factors in the company’s decision to use 3Com’s switch, he said.

3Com needed such a switch to compete with Cisco and other rivals for business from bigger companies, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. “3Com is doing okay — not great, but not poor — as they go through a serious company transformation,” Kerravala said. “They’re not going to be a serious enterprise player overnight.”

The 7700R can handle gigabit Ethernet transmissions now and includes future support for 10 gigabit Ethernet cards, which should appear by midyear, according to Kerravala. “That’s a little behind the competition,” he noted.

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