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3Com Makes Network Security Play

3Com is blurring the boundaries between networking and security.



) -- Computer equipment maker



is bolstering its security story in an attempt to put the squeeze on networking giants


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With cybersecurity a

big issue

for both businesses and governments, 3Com is building new security features into its Local Area Network (LAN) switches.

"Network security is increasingly on everybody's agenda," Ron Sege, the 3Com COO, told

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, pointing to the Miami hacker who was charged with orchestrating one of the largest cases of

identity theft

in U.S. history. "CIOs and chief security officers are really worried that something like that is going to happen to them."

3Com already has a number of security weapons in its arsenal thanks to its 2005 acquisition of


, specifically intrusion prevention technology, although this is typically sold as a standalone device. Now, however, 3Com will offer this capability as a blade which can slot into its LAN switch chassis.

"Before, you bought a separate box and plugged it in between your data center, for example, and the rest of the world," said Sege. "Now you will have a choice to distribute TippingPoint to more network places

such as branch offices and wiring closets."

Increasingly, tech companies are looking to

converge technologies

, either through mergers and acquisitions or partnerships, as users look to reduce the amount of management needed in their data centers.

The move comes just a few months after 3Com


sales of products from its Chinese H3C subsidiary to the rest of the world, underlining the firm's desire to tackle Cisco. Prior to May, 3Com primarily sold its networking products to small and medium-sized businesses, whereas H3C had more of an enterprise focus.

H3C sells more than 100 networking devices into the Chinese market, including wireless LAN offerings and high-end core routers and switches, but these are now being pushed into other parts of the globe, including the U.S.

3Com, like most of the tech sector, has felt the strain of the economic downturn, and its recent

fourth-quarter revenue

dipped more than 8% compared to the same period last year. The networking company nonetheless beat analysts' estimates and its H3C expansion helped grow U.S. revenue 16% sequentially.

"Now the chassis we sell, both inside and outside of China, will have this additional functionality," said Sege. "They are starting to be available now, and we will be continuing to ship them into the first half of 2009."

In addition to its TippingPoint blades, The Mass.-based firm unveiled two new H3C-branded firewalls Monday, one of which is a standalone device. The other is switch blade.

3Com is also touting its networking/security combo as an alternative to software products from


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, which was one of's

top tech picks

for 2009.

Although lacking its own networking assets, McAfee has fared well during the recession, and recently bust out strong

second-quarter numbers