3Com customers will soon be able to set specific performance levels for traffic running across mixed Ethernet and ATM networks, thanks to a raft of switch add-on products due out this quarter.
This will be the first time that 3Com users will be able to perform this advanced function across mixed Ethernet and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) networks.
Quality-of-service support in the modules can, for example, allow IT managers to assign a higher-quality link for delay-sensitive voice and video traffic than for data traffic.
And the class-of-service support lets network managers assign higher service levels for bandwidth devoted to critical ERP traffic over e-mail traffic.
These new offerings cover traffic sent from PCs on Ethernet LANs (local area networks) all the way to servers and mainframes connected to high-speed backbone networks in data centres.
"With most vendors, ATM tends to get little attention,'' said John Morency, an analyst at Renaissance Worldwide, a Newton, Massachusetts-based consultancy. Although thousands of users have ATM backbone networks, most of the focus is on Gigabit Ethernet, he added.
3Com's ATM enhancements position it neck-and-neck with ATM pioneer Fore Systems and ahead of other rivals such as Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and Cabletron Systems, Morency said.
3Com is preparing to ship modules for its widely-used SuperStack II 1100/3300 Ethernet workgroup switch line.
Also on deck are ATM modules for 3Com's CoreBuilder 3500 routing switch. These modules enable the 3Com switches to connect to ATM backbones running at speeds of 155Mbits/sec or 622Mbits/sec