3Com to launch apps for VoIP, acceleration-enabled routers

New Asterisk application creates IP-PBX for remote branches

3Com this week is expected to unveil a pair of applications - one for Asterisk VoIP and the other for WAN acceleration/optimization - that run on its MSR series of multiservice routers.

The applications are built to 3Com's Open Services Networking (OSN) blueprint, which was launched a year ago to offer open platforms for integrating "best-of-breed" and open source applications developed by 3Com and third parties into the network infrastructure. This, 3Com says, enables enterprises to simplify operations, reduce capital and operating costs, and preserve investment while adding incremental features and functions.

The combination of the routers with the OSN applications are intended to go up against Cisco's Integrated Services Routers (ISR), a highly popular and successful platform for the company that integrates data, voice and security services. ISRs are a key reason for Cisco's continued dominance in the branch office market that Dell'Oro Group puts at 87% in the third quarter of 2007.

Meanwhile, 3Com's share was about 2.6% of the US$796 million worldwide market in the third quarter. 3Com hopes the price/performance of its OSN/MSR offering can begin to dent Cisco's dominance. The company says it can offer in some cases more than twice the raw throughput of an ISR at US$2,000 to US$4,000 less cost.

3Com has sold about 10,000 MSR routers in China, some with 3Com and partner OSN applications for Services Monitoring, event management and network behavior analysis, and e-mail information leak protection. They are designed for deployment at enterprise branch and regional offices and by managed service providers offering enterprises business continuity and security services, among others.

Asterisk and WAN optimization

The new 3Com Asterisk IP Communications Platform adds unified VoIP capabilities into the network. It is a Linux-based application that creates an IP-PBX for remote branches with up to 30 employees. The system includes telephony features such as voice mail, auto attendant, voice menus and conferencing.

3Com Asterisk supports up to 25 simultaneous Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) sessions and no user licenses are needed, 3Com says. It works with 3Com's telephone handsets as well as Polycom's SIP-based IP phones, the company says.

The other new application, a WAN optimization and application acceleration from 3Com partner Expand Networks, is intended to improve network performance and enhance application access in a branch office setting, to help eliminate the need for costly bandwidth upgrades. The application improves the performance of an MSR by 400% or more, 3Com says, and eliminates the need to deploy a separate acceleration appliance at the branch.

All OSN applications run on a Linux-based Open Services Module (OSM) in the MSR router which is designed to eliminate the need to deploy multiple single-task appliances to enhance network performance, security and VoIP capabilities, for example. This level of integration is also more energy efficient than deploying multiple, single-purpose appliances, 3Com says.

The OSM and OSN applications run on all three MSR models: The 50 Series, 30 Series and 20 Series. The 3Com Asterisk application starts at US$995. Pricing for the Expand Networks WAN optimization application, which 3Com sells on an OEM basis, starts at US$315 per module.

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Jim Duffy

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