3Com Offers Upgradable LAN Switch

By Matt Carolan  |  Posted 2002-04-08

A lower-cost addition to 3Com Corp.s SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 family, unveiled last week, is aimed at enterprises that dont yet need enhanced traffic management features.

The SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 SE is a stackable 10/100M-bps LAN device with limited network management features that can be upgraded through software patches with such advanced features as Layer 4 traffic prioritization.

In addition, traffic optimization for voice traffic can be established by using the switch in conjunction with 3Coms NBX IP-based business telephone solution.

3Com already sells SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 family switches in 24- and 48-port models with software installed for enhanced traffic management. Out of the box, these can prioritize voice traffic or block gaming traffic on the local network, 3Com officials said.

However, some customers are satisfied with simple wire-speed capabilities and what amounts to Layer 2 switching without multilayer traffic prioritization.

Ed Krusinski, a network specialist at the National Cancer Institute, in Frederick, Md., has tested the SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 SE as an option for the agencys LAN. Since the agency upgraded its network over the past two years using 3Com switches, its peak usage has been no more than 10 percent of the networks capacity, Krusinski said. So where it might need an additional switch to adjust for changes in desktop users, it wouldnt need advanced traffic management capabilities, he said.

"Right now, it would be nice to get in at a lower price since we wouldnt use that feature at this point anyway," Krusinski said.

3Com officials in Santa Clara, Calif., said adding the software features later would be more expensive than buying a fully configured switch out of the box. A SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 with 24 ports and software pre-loaded is priced at $1,595, whereas the SE switch without the software is priced at $1,295, and the software upgrade costs $495.

The SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 SE is available now. The software upgrade is expected to be available in the second half of this year.

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