3Com has Cisco in its sights

3Com is taking Cisco head on in the enterprise router space claiming its new line of WAN router products will be cheaper than Cisco's and prove a viable alternative to the market leader.

Last week the company announced that it will be re-entering the enterprise router space with a series of routers for the regional, branch and main offices. The products are courtesy of its joint venture with Chinese vendor, Huawei Technologies.

The products would line up directly against its Cisco counterparts, 3Com's international business development manager, Andy Gijsbrechts, said. The 3Com 5009 would compete against the Cisco 1751 Modular Access routers in the branch office, he said.

The 3Com 5231 would come up against the Cisco 2650XM Multiservice Router in the regional office and in the main office the 3Com 5640/5680 routers would compete against the Cisco 3600 series.

Gijsbrechts said all up the products would be from 20 per cent to 30 per cent less than Cisco products.

He said none of the routers would come with any hidden costs such as memory upgrades.

As an example, he claimed Cisco typically sold its routers with minimum memory and required customers to upgrade later at a greater cost.

Asked to respond a Cisco spokesperson said Cisco did not comment directly on the competition's claims.

When IDC's research director for infrastructure and communications, Joel Martin, was asked if Cisco should be scared, he said "no". But Martin did say that 3Com had a chance to make a play in the Australian market.

However, the size of the two companies is incomparable at the moment. Currently 3Com has local sales and support staff of 11 people compared to Cisco which has hundreds.

In addition, 3Com is without a local managing director following the departure of Mike Clarke last week. The business will now be split and run by two directors that report to Stanimira Koleva, 3Com president for Asia South. The as yet to be appointed mangers will have the role of enterprise sales director, and a channel/education sales leader which will also include overseeing the SMB space.

"It is a big challenge, but it is an opportunity," Koleva said of the company's push into the enterprise market. She said she hoped to see Australian customers deploying 3Com enterprise products in the next six to nine months.

In the meantime, Koleva has appointed Simon Edwards from the company's UK office to look after distribution strategy which presently includes LAN Systems, Ingram Micro and Tech Pacific.

"We are not looking to change anything dramatically," he said, shortly after arriving in Australia. "We currently have a good distributor base and look to further enhance that existing relationship."

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