3Com Corp. may have closed the book on its home networking device, Audrey, but it certainly
hasn’t given up on networking and its potential as a pervasive force in
businesses. The Santa Clara, Calif. firm Wednesday rolled out networking
products geared to help companies cut connectivity costs and boost Web
Though nothing special or unusual as far as network performance-enhancing
devices go, the SuperStack 3 Webcache and SuperStack 3 Server Load Balancer
product families, as well as a new software version for the SuperStack 3
Firewall, can all be installed within a quick 20 minutes.
“The sub-20 minute set-up time is an industry first for this product
category,” said Patrick Guay, vice president and general manager of LAN
Infrastructure Division, 3Com’s Business Networking Company.
As with most caching products, the SuperStack 3 Webcache stores
heavily-tapped Web pages on the local area network (LAN) and provides
content without needing to pull data from the wide area network (WAN)
Internet connection multiple times, yielding what 3Com claims is a 50
percent reduction in WAN Web bandwidth costs. And because content is served
locally at LAN Ethernet speeds in lieu of the WAN link, Web pages are zipped
to users. Moreover, 3Com said it has tabbed caching and search engine
specialist Inktomi Corp. to embed its Traffic Server Engine into SuperStack
3 Webcache. The product is ideal for firms who rely heavily on the internet
to conduct business.
A pricier, more technically involved product, 3Com’s SuperStack 3 Server
Load Balancer manages network traffic across servers, so businesses are
ensured maximum uptime, as well as the all-too-important capacity to serve
e-commerce, network scalability and improved network performance. The server
load balancer distributes network traffic at wire speed using Layer
4-to-Layer 7 switching. The load balancer was designed for companies with
server farms, or those who are looking to set up advanced server
3Com Wednesday also offered an upgrade for its firewall product, which has
been on the market since last December. SuperStack Firewall provides
businesses with the security to protect against hacker attacks. It also
allows IT managers to set up virtual private networks (VPNs) to leverage the
Internet for remote site connections.
Zeus Kerravala, research director at The Yankee Group, said the products can
save businesses considerable amounts of money.
“The complexity and cost that have been associated with these Web
technologies in the past has been daunting to some IT managers,” Kerravala
said. “However, by masking the complexity and making them more affordable,
3Com can make these solutions available to businesses of all sizes.”
3Com can use the good news and reviews after a tough June when it posted a
net loss of $518 million on revenues of $468 million for the fourth quarter. The
company recorded a $147 million loss in the same period a year ago.
3Com President and CEO Bruce Claflin said he did not expect a major,
industry-wide improvement in market conditions soon for 2001, but predicted
that the Palm Inc. spinoff will be back in the black by the last quarter of
The company’s restructuring strategy, which included the March cancellation
of the Audrey Net appliance, has eliminated 40 percent of its staff since
All of the following 3Com products are immediately available: the SuperStack
3 Webcache starts at $4,999 and the SuperStack 3 Server Load Balancer starts
at $8,995. The SuperStack 3 Firewall is priced at $4,999; version 2.0 will
be available as a free upgrade late summer 2001.