3Com Leaps into Wireless LAN Switching

The vendor forges a partnership with Trapeze Networks to leverage its WLAN switching technology.

Networking industry veteran 3Com Corp. is jumping into the wireless LAN switching fray through a partnership with Trapeze Networks Inc. that promises to push wireless technology throughout the companys current product line.

3Com, of Marlboro, Mass., later this year will begin reselling a version of Trapezes Mobility Exchange Switch and management software under the 3Com brand. But long-term plans call for full integration of WLAN switching into 3Coms product line, which should be a boon to current 3Com customers already moving into wireless, company officials said.

"We currently treat our wireless-to-wired networks as independent infrastructures," said Steve Murgas, chief technology officer of the School of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, which uses 3Coms Ethernet equipment. "This creates financial burdens and end-user limitations that need to be addressed to provide a cost-effective network infrastructure."

By integrating some of Trapezes technology into other 3Com products, 3Com will ensure that the rebranded switch will work in conjunction with products such as its SuperStack 3 Switch, officials said. The company also has plans for lower-cost access points, now that system intelligence can be offloaded to the switch, officials said. Furthermore, the companies plan to co-develop products that focus on voice-over-WLAN applications.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read about the growing support for voice-over-Wi-Fi.

For Trapezes part, the partnership is an acknowledgment that an enterprise network doesnt work in a vacuum, especially when it comes to security.

"Security in the past was about the perimeter, and the core was wide open," said Dan Simone, vice president of product management and co-founder of Trapeze, in Pleasanton, Calif. When integrating a WLAN into an existing enterprise network, he said, "you have to build it from the inside out, and thats something that no WLAN startup can do on its own."

3Com will offer professional services to aid the integration, officials said.

3Com opted for a reselling arrangement to speed entry into the crowded WLAN space, officials said. Still, 3Com briefly considered a wireless add-on for its own Ethernet switches, as Cisco Systems Inc. had done, they said.

"That was a consideration a few years ago, but it didnt happen," said Steve Parker, wireless product manager at 3Com.

Parker said 3Com evaluated 32 possible partners before settling on Trapeze, citing Trapezes security features and the fact that the Mobility system supports layers 2 and 3 switching. Ciscos Wireless LAN Services Module, by contrast, supports only Layer 3 switching.

However, sources close to Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. and Airespace Inc. said those companies passed on partnerships with 3Com because they didnt like the financial terms 3Com proposed.

3Com officials said the rebranded switch will be on the market by the end of the year. Pricing has not yet been set, Parker said.

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