3Com has launched a range of routers that can integrate with users' existing Cisco kit. The move should make it easier to build "best-of-breed" networks.
The 6000 series of routers is designed to integrate with Juniper as well as Cisco routers, giving firms another option when they want to mix and match products from different suppliers.
The command line interfaces of the 3Com routers are similar to those on Cisco products, meaning that potential users will not have too many problems managing the kit. The pricing is also competitive with similar Cisco products.
3Com is heavily promoting the concept of the best-of-breed network in an attempt to persuade users with Cisco kit that they can get a better deal if they use standards-based products from more than one supplier.
3Com is playing catch-up after leaving the enterprise network market at the beginning of the decade to cut its costs, only to return again 18 months ago after striking a cut-price manufacturing deal with Chinese supplier Huwaei.
Designed for wide area network connectivity for organisations with distributed networks, 3Com's Router 6000 Family has come through interoperability testing with Cisco and Juniper products in trials carried out by research company Tolly Group.
"We see opportunities to give enterprise customers better value and offer them a choice for enterprise-class Wan routers by providing products that have all the relevant features of other leading routers," said Udaya Shankar, 3Com's senior director of router product management.
"The fact that routers have become essentially standardised, whether through formal or de facto standards, means that the buying criteria for routers have changed over the past few years. A multi-supplier routed and switched network is a reality among larger customers today.
"Enterprise customers can create an optimised IP infrastructure at a lower cost of ownership, and can then deliver new services, such as voice over IP and security services in a structure suitable to them."
The Router 6000 provides a multi-service platform that allows users to add future technologies and software features over time. As well as a full range of routing protocols, the products support Multi-Protocol Label Switching, quality of service technology and IPsec VPN services.
Kevin Tolly, chief executive of Tolly Group, said, "The 3Com routers are an attractive option for those looking for a second router provider."
The 6000 family is aimed at the space occupied by the Cisco 3700 series of routers. Prices for the 3Com Router 6040 and 3Com Router 6080 start at £3,525 and £4,935 respectively.