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This week 3Com Corp. will roll out the elements it needs to compete in the large-enterprise network market but still needs to gain recognition as a contender.

The Marlboro, Mass., company will introduce its terabit-speed Switch 8800 core LAN switch, along with 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules for its Switch 7700 and SuperStack 3 3870 distribution and its gigabit-to-the-desktop switches.

After quitting the core LAN switch market in the late 1990s, 3Com hopes to make up for ground lost primarily to Cisco Systems Inc. in large-enterprise networks by employing a combination of lower prices, better performance and a future-proof architecture.

Click here to read more about 3Com switching products.

The Switch 8800, aimed at the next-generation core of the largest enterprise networks, has a 1.44-terabit-per-second backplane and provides wire-speed 10 Gigabit Ethernet load-sharing switch fabrics with on-board Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching. Traffic destined for a port on the same module does not traverse the backplane, according to 3Com officials.

The core switch offering provides 2.5 times the performance of a comparably configured Cisco Catalyst 6500, and it offers a “much longer investment timeline than the Catalyst 6500,” said a 3Com official.

The Switch 8800 family, developed in the Huawei-3Com joint venture, offers seven-, 10- and 14-slot chassis, with two slots reserved in each category for the switching fabric. Modules for the switch include one- and two-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules as well as 12- and 24-port Gigabit Ethernet modules.

“This is 3Com’s way of redeeming themselves for abandoning the switch market a few years ago. 3Com has some real dedication to the core-switch market. The amount of research and development they’re putting into the new product line really demonstrates their commitment,” said 3Com user Mark Berkheimer, IT manager at the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, in Middletown, Pa.

With a full complement of high-performance switching at the core, 3Com must now focus on building market awareness and distribution channels for its large-enterprise switches, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston. The Switch 8800 will be available in the second quarter of next year. The 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules for the Switch 7700 and the SuperStack 3 3870 are due by year’s end. Starter-kit pricing is $26,000 for the Switch 8807 and $36,000 for the Switch 8814.

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