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Von Russell Bennett

Last month saw 3Com Corp. make a number of announcements, among them revealing the long-awaited new country manager for 3Com South Africa. Johnathene Beyers, who has been an active member of the SA ICT industry for 15 years, took up her new post in the midst of the launch of the new 3Com go-to-market strategy with the tagline "Exercise Choice!".

Through its extensive R&D investments, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.-3Com has released a startling amount of new products and technologies in the last 12 months. Next year will see even more innovation from the organization, as part of its commitment to providing choice in the networking arena.

Along with this strategy came news of a drive towards the enterprise and Tier-1 carrier arenas, a market from which the organization has been absent for a number of years, despite historical success. Said Pax Andersson, 3Com vice-president in charge of EMEA sales, at Beyers" introductory ceremony: "We are coming in strong with bigger core products than our competitor, solutions across the entire range of modern business requirements, including voice-oriented offerings, built-in security, WLAN and GbE connectivity. We have the ammo, and are ready to claim a section of the Tier-1 space with the technology at our disposal."

Underlining this drive was the introduction of the latest 8800 series of high-end solutions, claimed by 3Com"s Wolfgang Held to be: "The highest-performing LAN switching product that 3Com has ever released. The 8800 can handle the largest core network requirements all by itself, thanks to its terabit switching capabilities."

This architecture aims to provide all the functionality required by a modern core networking product such as High Availability: multiple 10Gb Ethernet connections, a maximum of 288 GbE ports and all redundant components. This introduction moves the 7700 family, now with the addition of a 10GbE module itself, out of the core and into a bandwidth distribution role. Even MPLS modules will become available for the 8800 for a truly end-to-end, carrier-grade solution.

Comments Held: "There are very few organizations active in this stratospheric space, but bandwidth increases by a factor of ten every few years, so such routing power is required to build 10 GbE backbones for delivery of GbE ports to the desktop, which is coming."

Cisco Systems Inc. has enjoyed strong growth in the MPLS sector over the last year, as well as in the SME arena, interestingly enough. But the organization says that it is determined to deliver the absolute highest levels of performance to its carrier-class customers with two new announcements.

First is the Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR), which Willie Oosthuysen, Cisco Systems technical director in sub-Saharan Africa, describes as: "An all-in-one communications architecture, integrating security technologies like firewall and intrusion prevention (IPS), voice-switching capabilities and much more into the core of your network infrastructure."

"Integration of voice and network security capabilities into routers is a great way to help organizations to save money and time, but the addition of these features cannot negatively impact network performance. Cisco"s Integrated Services Routers will help many organizations to build more efficient and robust IP networks, especially now that many SMEs are looking to take advantage of market liberalization," he continues.

Next came the Cisco Carrier Service Router (CRS-1), claimed to be the first networking equipment to have a Guinness-verified 92 terabit total throughput capacity. States Oosthuysen: "The CRS-1 is such a high-performance unit, think of it in terms of an ATM link aggregator. It is a next-generation routing solution, meaning that if you implement one of these now, you can forget about backbone bandwidth limitations for the next 20 years.

"Continued competition between driving forces like these aims to ensure that our network infrastructures become ever more powerful and complex, delivering the converged digital communications upon which the global economy is built, in the fastest and most reliable way possible," he concludes.