3Com touts open source

Linux-based modules to support third-party applications in routers

3Com this week plans to make a fresh run at Cisco and Juniper with an enterprise network strategy focused on embedding security, management and VOIP services from itself and others into its routers and switches.

The company will kick off its Open Services Networking (OSN) effort by introducing a module for 3Com routers capable of running applications from an array of new partners, such as VMware, as well as from open source code. 3Com says its strategy rivals Cisco's approach for running advanced services at the network layer but allows IT executives more flexibility in choosing such services.

Observers say 3Com is taking a novel approach, but that its challenge will be to execute and sustain the effort better than its past comeback attempts.

The news marks the company's first significant product launch since 3Com veteran Edgar Masri rejoined the company as its CEO in August. The move comes two months after 3Com bought out its joint venture with Huawei Technologies, the China-based network vendor that co-developed and built 3Com's midsize- and large-enterprise infrastructure products.

3Com's OSN module is a Linux-based server blade that fits into the company's 6000 series routers. It is designed to run applications that benefit from being close to the network layer, the company says. The blade will operate inside the 6000 unit on top of the core IP routing and security layer, which runs on a proprietary operating system and hardware, as before. Administrators would control the OSN blade through a Web-based interface, independent of the control interface for the 6000 device.

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