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May 12, 2009

China take-out on the menu at 3Com

But can H3C disrupt the status quo?

By Steve Evans

Network vendor 3Com has announced that it is launching its H3C enterprise network platform worldwide as it looks to build on the product line’s success in China.

In what is being widely seen as an attempt to take on Cisco on a worldwide basis, the H3C products will be aimed at larger enterprises, expanding on 3Com’s traditional SMB customer base.

The H3C brand is already well-established in the Chinese market. It is the only market where Cisco is not the dominant force and 3Com is looking to repeat that success in other territories.

Mike Ansley, EMEA VP at 3Com, told CBR that the company is not worried about launching the China-out strategy during an economic crisis.

“It’s all about disruption, we want to disrupt the status quo. We are taking our design and development capabilities to create new technologies that are disruptive from a price perspective in a recessionary time,” he said. “The economy is good news. I think China is down to 6.5% GDP. We would take that growth in the UK.”

Ansley argues that this is the right time to launch H3C. “In a very difficult environment the opportunity to be disruptive exists like no other time. The market is compressed in terms of customer budget and success will be based on letting them do more with a limited budget,” he said.

The new technologies announced include a data centre switch, called the H3C S12500, with 6.6TB of non-blocking fabric, with up to 128 non-blocking 10-Gigabit or 864 non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet ports.

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3Com has also announced the S5800 Series, which the company claims is the first product that can function as a modular chassis as well as a fixed-form-factor stackable switch, which it is calling a ‘flex-chassis’.

The company has introduced a new channel partner programme to help push H3C. Ansley said that it will be a smaller partner base, which should help drive profitability at the company.

“The goal is to create a very narrow, technically talented channel,” Ansley said. “Today the 3Com brand is selling mainly into the SMB market and has a broad channel. It’s very productive in terms of the technology but now the skills required are something different.”

Ansley said that the new channel will have much more rigorous entry targets and should prove more profitable, which the company can re-invest.

Partners already announced include Lefatshe in South Africa and BT in France, with more to be announced. Ansley said that there will probably be a maximum of two partners per country.

H3C initially began life as a venture between 3Com and Huawei. 3Com took full control of the company in 2007.

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