3Com Corporation has announced a "blueprint" for its new wireless switch-based solutions that will be rolled out over the next few months in a series of new product announcements. 3Com's wireless switch blueprint is intended to map out the options available to its enterprise customers in building next-generation, converged wired and wireless networks. 3Com offers the advantages of a comprehensive wired and wireless product line, easy wireless integration into ordinary wired networks, pay-as-you grow pricing and the proven expertise with wireless and wired networking including voice and security. 3Com is also pursuing its partner strategy to facilitate faster time-to-market for certain components of the solutions and to have the ability to integrate wireless switch functionality into other 3Com products and new platforms over time.

"Enterprise wireless LAN systems need to integrate with the wired network in order to keep operational costs low," said Abner Germanow, enterprise networking research manager at IDC. "CIOs and IT managers need to consider how wireless LANs systems fit into the technical tasks of managing security protocols and device configuration as well as the business burdens of managing multiple vendors for all the various components of an enterprise network."

New 3Com Wireless Blueprint for End-to-End Solutions
3Com's new wireless-switch-based blueprint is organized into three main areas - convergence, compatibility and comprehensiveness of products and services. Convergence consists of combining wired and wireless networking with voice and security. Compatibility is focused on interoperability with third party wired and wireless products by leveraging 3Com customer's existing wireless access point investments, which enables a higher return on investment and product future-proofing. The comprehensiveness of products and services spans across a wide array, including centralized management, security and voice applications, virtual LAN and Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology.

In order to accelerate "time to market" with the delivery of key components that constitute 3Com's wireless switch plans, 3Com is working with Trapeze Networks, an award-winning enterprise wireless LAN vendor. The next phase of 3Com's wireless strategy consists of collaborating with Trapeze to leverage its proven wireless hardware and software portfolio. The future phases of the relationship include plans to join forces with Trapeze on integrating wireless functionality into 3Com's wired products.

"Expanding 3Com's presence into new segments of the enterprise market through collaborative relationships is a fundamental part of our strategy," said Anik Bose, vice president of corporate business development, 3Com. "Our new relationship with Trapeze Networks employs this strategy to help bolster our already strong enterprise wireless product line. This relationship will enable us to extend the scalability and feature-leadership of our wireless solutions to all segments of the enterprise market."

3Com is bringing together all of its wireless, security, voice, switching and PoE technologies to create a new converged network that integrates enhanced wireless capabilities. The customer benefits of 3Com's solutions include improved management of enterprise wireless, the possibilities for integrating business applications across both wired and wireless networks, increased automation to reduce complexity and delivering what enterprise customers often need in a modular approach for secure mobility.

As part of its blueprint, 3Com will support wireless switching as an application to standard wired networks giving customers greater choice in deploying their wireless LAN solutions. Moreover, being a standards-driven company that offers open architectures for customer flexibility, 3Com plans to be a leader in enabling the easy integration of its wireless switch-based systems into other vendors' networks for a multi-vendor approach.

The benefits to customers include the ability to lower total cost of ownership, more flexibility in choosing affordable, standards-based hardware, creating reinforced links for security across the network, and supporting an increasing number of business applications for enterprise sites and wireless hot spots.

Comprehensive Solutions (Products and Services)
3Com offers an end-to-end portfolio of enterprise products that give enterprise customers the confidence to build complete networks to support wired, wireless, security and voice applications. Specifically, 3Com offers a wide range of wireless equipment including LAN 802.11a/b/g access points and wireless PC cards, as well as PoE and plans to deliver new technology to enable IT managers to create wireless user and group mobility profiles and security policies, which would be centrally managed for an entire enterprise-sized organization. Because 3Com has products for businesses of all sizes, 3Com's blueprint for wireless switching also includes a focus on scalability to meet larger enterprise requirements.

3Com plans to deliver an enterprise wireless switch controller that will work in conjunction with 3Com's PoE product, the SuperStack 3 Switch 4400PWR, as well as a scaled-down version for small enterprise and small-to medium-business customers. Also, since the intelligence that once resided only on the access points is now being off-loaded to the wireless switch, 3Com plans to offer new lower-cost access points. Furthermore, 3Com intends to deliver all-inclusive network management software to manage the new hardware.

3Com also intends to offer new professional services to support the wireless switch products. They will include planning, installation, integration and maintenance to help customers maximize their investment in new-generation wireless equipment.

Customers will be able to gain tighter control of the network and will be able to plan to support "voice over wireless LAN" (VoWLAN) in the future, based on the capabilities built into wireless switch solutions.

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