3Com focus on enterprise convergence

3Com is responding to user demand for converged, simplified networks with a commitment to industry partnering, but it's a strategy the company admits faces strong industry critique.

John Hart, 3Com's chief technical officer, said yesterday the company is focusing its efforts on converged voice and data, but is under no illusion about users' perceptions of its difficulty.

"The point is we are in a complexity crisis," he said.

Hart said 3Com is developing a pragmatic approach to network design, recognising user need for simplified, 'plug and play' networks.

He indicated future solutions for voice and data convergence is routing voice traffic over the public telephone network, rather than pursuing an IP-exclusive, network-backbone model.

"[The industry] is trying to force-fit all those services through the same [IP backbone] path," he said.

According to Hart, 3Com is determined to leverage its strength at the network edge, leaving dominant players like Cisco, Nortel and Lucent to cater for the enterprise backbone.

"We play in the non-tariffed part of the infrastructure," he said.

Hart rejected suggestions 3Com's ongoing focus to provide equipment and services for the network edge is at the expense of its enterprise networking business. He reports 3Com derives half its revenues from "systems sales" worldwide. "You don't lose focus on half your revenues," he said.

Meanwhile, Hart believes networking vendors have a strong future ahead partnering with telco service providers, with its own partnership with Siemens a classic example.

As voice and data networks converge, Hart said networking vendors and telcos must seek partnerships to avoid conflicts of business interests that ultimately lead to litigation.

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