3Com Launches New H3C Brand and Enterprise Switch

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Updated: There’s life in 3Com yet. It’s pressing its home-market advantage… from its Chinese customer base

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Veteran network giant 3Com is surging back to life again, with a new worldwide enterprise networking brand, building on its successes in China, and a new giant chassis enterprise switch, the S12500.

The H3C brand will sell enterprise-level kit, alongside 3Com’s other networking equipment which mostly goes to mid-range busineses. It is based on a joint-venture between 3com and Huawei, which 3com bought out in 2006, and which now competes head to head with Cisco in China, and accounts for now accounts for about half of 3Com’s $1.3 billion annual turnover.

“We have a China-out strategy, leveraging our home market advantage” said Mike Ansley, 3Com’s European vice president. “We are number one in routing in China, having split the market with Cisco.” China is the only country in the world where Cisco’s market lead is contested, he said, giving the H3C brand strength in the rest of the world.

The recession is the ideal time to try and unseat Cisco, he said, as hard-up users will be more likely to look at a credible alternative vendor in order to save money: “In history, many companies have leveraged difficult times to disrupt an industry,” he said.

“I’m feeling the pain of the industry,” said Ansley. “I am acquiring customers at a pace I’ve never acquired them before.” 3Com customers gained from Cisco include Peugeot and the SNCF railway network in France, he said.

The S12500 is a chassis switch with a 6.6 Tbit throughput, for end-of-rack use. The 5800 series flex-chassis switch for top-of-rack use, has 18 slots, which can support up to to 192 10-Gigabit ports or 640 Gigabit Ethernet ports. “This takes the H3C brand into the core of data centre,” said Ansley.

The two brands will segment the market much as Cisco does with its Linksys brand, although Linksys is for home and small-office networks, while 3Com extends higher to medium-size businesses, said Ansley. In future, any enterprise products from 3Com will be branded only as H3C.

H3C’s products will be the greenest switches around, said Anslwy: ” We use merchant silicon, but we pick the latest and greatest. We don’t need big heatsinks or big power supplies. Our product family is all built in the last four years, unlike some of our competitors.”

The new H3C brand will have a new partner programme, working with a smaller group of skilled enterprise network builders than the rest of 3Com, working on much larger contracts, said Ansley, giving them “more profitability”.

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