3Com brings Gigabit to the SMB
3Com is expected to unveil switches for small and medium businesses designed to bring enterprise-class capabilities, such as Gigabit Ethernet, to that market.

The switches include a 10-port desktop Gigabit Power over Ethernet (PoE) device and a line of wiring closet Gigabit Ethernet switches in various configurations. The products are intended to enhance price/performance, security and ease of deployment for Gigabit Ethernet and PoE networking.

“3Com is pushing gigabit when a lot of the enterprise competitors have been pushing 10/100[Mbps],” says Steve Schuchart, principal analyst for enterprise network systems at Current Analysis. “I’m a little mystified as to why people are dealing with 10/100 at this point. You can hardly buy a PC without gigabit on it.”

For desktop connectivity, the OfficeConnect Managed Gigabit PoE switch is a fanless device sporting 10 1Gbps PoE ports for lower-density workgroup, phone and access-point connectivity. PoE switches usually carry a minimum of 24 ports.

For the wiring closet, 3Com’s Baseline Switch 2900 line of managed devices come in four configurations: 16-, 24- and 48-port 1Gbps Ethernet; and 24-port 1Gbps PoE. The rack-mountable switches are designed to interconnect desktop workgroups, such as those configured with the OfficeConnect line.

Both the OfficeConnect and 2900 PoE switches feature 3Com’s AutoVoice capability for automatically detecting the MAC addresses of IP phones and connecting them to the appropriate VLAN.

A potential downside to the switches, however, is that 3Com is only offering a three-year hardware warranty on them, whereas such competitors as HP ProCurve and Extreme are offering lifetime warranties.

On the upside, 3Com is offering gigabit “awfully cheap,” Schuchart says.

The OfficeConnect switch is priced at $495. The 16-port 2900 is even lower — $355.

The 24- and 48-port non-PoE switches cost $495 and $995, respectively, while the 24-port PoE switch costs $1,195.

All of the products are available.

– Jim Duffy

Big Blue goes after the small business
IBM is announcing on Friday software and resources for smaller businesses to manage software quality and network infrastructure like their counterparts in large enterprises use.

Small and midsized businesses are defined by IBM as those with fewer than 1,000 employees. Companies in the small- to medium-sized bracket account for 60 percent of IT spending, said David Locke, director of offerings marketing at IBM. But these businesses can lack resources or a formalized IT department despite facing the same enterprise-level challenges, IBM said.

“There is a very large percentage of the market that is in this category that really does have needs to manage IT infrastructure and govern their businesses more effectively,” Locke said.

Being fitted for smaller companies are products coming from IBM product lines such as its IBM Rational and Tivoli tools. Among the products and resources being introduced is IBM Rational Build Forge Express Edition, for software delivery.

The product helps standardize and automate repetitive tasks, manage compliance mandates and boost information sharing. Unlike the enterprise version, the Express product only works on a Windows console. It also eliminates other enterprise features such as dynamic server pooling, which is for distributed teams.

The product is priced at US$49,000 per server and is slated for October 23 availability. Although this might sight seem a steep price tag for smaller businesses, IBM’s Locke said market studies and customer engagements have shown that the price is where it ought to be.

“It is $49,000 but it is a great value and priced right for this size of business,” Locke said.

Other products being launched include:

— IBM Tivoli Network Manager IP (Internet Protocol) Entry Edition, a network management product providing real-time visibility into network infrastructures. It starts at $35,000.
— IBM Rational Team Concert, Beta 1, providing a collaborative portal to improve team productivity in software delivery. This is the first offering developed on IBM’s Jazz technology platform for application lifecycle management.
— IBM Rational Performance Tester 7.01 and IBM Rational Functional Tester 7.01, for testing
scalability and reliability of applications before they are put into production. Also offered are extensions to these tools to improve software deployments that use packaged applications. Performance Tester starts in price at $1,500 while Functional Tester prices begin at $4,240.
— IBM Tivoli Consul Insight Manager, offering “auditor-in-a-box” capabilities for testing IT systems compliance from a single dashboard console.
— Watchfire AppScan, helping with security and compliance testing by mitigating risks associated with data breaches. IT also automates manual processes. The product also is available in a SaaS model. Prices start at $14,400
— A customer “ sitelet,” with access points for customers to address challenges in managing IT infrastructure, including system management, backup, recovery, and security.
— IBM Maximo software, to better enable asset-related sourcing and procurement.

IBM did not have individual pricing on the Maximo or Consul products, as these are groups of products.
– Paul Krill

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