Catching up to its rivals, 3Com Corp. on Tuesday introduced a 10-Gbit switch with a 1.44 terabit backplane that's designed to support the increasing bandwidth needs of large companies. The 8800 switch is the latest product to come from Huawei-3Com, a joint venture with Huawei, a Chinese equipment maker.
The 8800 switch will compete with a host of 10-Gbit switches from rivals such as Cisco Systems, Enterasys, Extreme Networks, Force-10, Foundry Networks, and others. These products are designed to handle the growing amount of high-speed traffic moving over business networks as more desktop PCs connect to LANs at 1,000 Mbps and 1 Gbps speeds and traffic from remote sites is aggregated onto a core network.
The switch comes with seven, 10, or 14 slots for switching modules, and features a dual switching fabric with load sharing to improve performance. It offers 24 10-Gbit ports or 288 gigabit ports, and can support more than 10,000 users. A fully configured switch ranges in price from $60,000 to $100,000 and is around 25% cheaper than a competing product from Cisco, 3Com executives say.
"3com is making real progress in moving back in to the high-end enterprise market where they left several years ago," says Steven Schuchart, a senior analyst for enterprise infrastructure at research firm Current Analysis. Having a 10-Gbit switch in its product portfolio is essential because businesses increasingly need high-speed switching in their core networks and server farms, Schuchart says. "[3Com] needed one to compete in that space. These really are the new top-end switches."
3Com also introduced 10-Gbit modules for its 7700 line of switches and its 3870 line of stackable switches. "That means a high-performance computing environment can go 10-gig end-to-end all on 3Com gear," Schuchart says.
3Com invested $160 million in a joint venture with Huawei in 2003. Huawei has 2,200 employees, half of which are engineers. The 8800 line of switches will be built by the joint venture in China.