3Com's return means more choice for users

Cisco has traditionally dominated the wide area networking market, but 3Com's return to the core router market last week could...

Cisco has traditionally dominated the wide area networking market, but 3Com's return to the core router market last week could intensify competition and choice.

Gartner analyst Neil Rickard said, "3Com will be very aggressive on pricing. A lot of people had given up on there being anyone but Cisco in this space."

The 3Com announcement, following last year's entry of Enterasys, means businesses are being offered platforms that are positioned as being simpler than Cisco's products.

"They are being sold as easier to configure, design and manage as they remove much of the complexity found in Cisco's IOS-based routing," said Mark Fabbi, an analyst at Gartner.

"They do not have every feature found in IOS, but most firms do not use those features anyway," he said.

"In addition, by designing the devices to have less physical configuration options, some of the challenges to running a Wan can be removed with a single stream of operating software."

Fabbi is advising users that Cisco prices had not reduced as rapidly as its rivals and is warning users not to pay more than a 20% price premium on Cisco products.

Cisco looks set to hit back with a global push to get its resellers to not simply sell kit, but to offer value added services.

For the canny IT director, there could be some bargains available.

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