3Com Extends Open Initiative

3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS) is waving the open-source flag, today introducing the Multi-Service Router (MSR) platform and a handful of associated applications. (See 3Com Intros Platform.)

Both fit into 3Com's open services networking (OSN) strategy, an attempt to compete with industry heavyweight Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). An open-source platform offers more choice in how customers deploy or develop applications and can speed the creation of new applications, 3Com argues.

"Rather than doing it ourselves, we're building a community of services," says Peter Doggart, senior director of 3Com's LAN and WAN infrastructure. "We're opening up APIs [application programming interfaces] and letting anyone write on our platforms."

In going to an open-source model, 3Com joins Vyatta Inc. , which uses open-source software in its combined router, VPN, and firewall gear. (See Comcast Invests in Vyatta and Vyatta Vaunts Open Source Router.)

Infonetics Research Inc. analyst Matthias Machowinski says the move to open source makes sense for the company. "3com is recognizing that the router can be so much more than a router, and they are creating a platform that you can do a number of things with," Machowinski says.

The modular nature of the platform gives customers the flexibility to reuse the same infrastructure and change applications down the road. That becomes a major advantage, Doggart says.

"We're competing against appliance vendors, which generally have a higher cost and are very inflexible. Customers can turn our appliance into something else entirely," Doggart says.

To show off the MSR's openness, 3Com introduced new applications developed by OSN partners, targeted at voice over IP (VOIP) and wide-area network (WAN) optimization applications. One example is the 3Com Asterisk IP Communications platform, which adds unified VOIP functionality, including IP PBX services for remote branches with up to 50 employees.

3Com also introduced a WAN optimization module for the MSR platform that was developed by Expand Networks Inc.

— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading

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