3Com Integrates Wired, Wireless Networking

Even as it prepares to get bought by Hewlett-Packard, 3Com is rolling out new products, most recently its H3C UNA portfolio, which gives businesses a common platform and operating system to support their wired and wireless access points. 3Com officials say the offering helps differentiate the company from Cisco Systems, which is forced to support multiple operating systems gained from acquisitions over the years.

3Com is looking to create a single enterprise networking layer by integrating wired and wireless networking into a single solution.

3Com, which is in the process of being bought by Hewlett-Packard, is rolling out its H3C UNA (Unified Network Access) portfolio, which officials said has been built from the ground up and will include a common framework for managing wired and wireless devices.

Introduced Nov. 23, the UNA portfolio includes integrated single console management capabilities and a common operating system across all H3C products, as well as integrated hardware, such as WAN controller modules and switches.

The goal is to give customers a single console through which they can manage and support numerous 802.11n access points and a solution that can easily scale, Scott Lindsay, senior director of mobility products at 3Com, said in an interview.

"This is not something [businesses] can get from Cisco," Lindsay said.

The key differentiator, he said, is that through its various acquisitions, Cisco Systems now has a number of products that have their own operating systems that Cisco is forced to support.

The 3Com solution gives businesses a single access layer for their wired and wireless environments, greater performance from their WLAN implementations, increased overall security and control of its networking, and reduced capital and operating costs, Lindsay said.

"The portfolio includes integrated controller modules for the S7500E chassis and S5800 Flex Chassis switching platforms, stand-alone controllers, unified switches and a range of access points," the company said in a Nov. 16 news release.

Lindsay said the portfolio already is being used in China, and now is making its way into the wider world. It's already shipping in the United States and elsewhere.

These enterprise networking capabilities are what HP officials were looking for when they announced in November that the company was buying 3Com for $2.7 billion. HP's ProCurve networking business had strong edge and small and midsize business offerings, but lacked core data center capabilities to compete with the likes of Cisco.

3Com had spent several years out of the global enterprise space, focusing instead on its business in China. However, earlier in 2009, company officials said 3com was expanding its business beyond those borders and re-entering the enterprise space, looking to give business a lower-cost alternative to Cisco.