3Com Corporation, headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is a leading global provider of networking solutions for enterprises and both small and medium businesses, including enterprise-class switching and routing products, as well as wireless technologies, network management and security systems. The company was founded in 1979 in Silicon Valley by Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet. 3Com rose to prominence as its Ethernet adapter cards were used in many 1980s computer systems, and over the years evolved into a world leader in networking products and solutions.
3Com was also a pioneer in Ethernet telephony—which has evolved into VoIP—with its NBX line of IP telephony products for small- and medium-sized organizations. In 2000, 3Com exited the large enterprise networking market to focus on the consumer, small and medium enterprise and network service provider markets. In early 2003, 3Com reentered that market by forming a China-based joint venture with Huawei Technologies, called H3C. Initially, 3Com owned 49 percent of the venture, later acquiring full ownership of H3C in early 2007. H3C is now 3Com’s China operation, where all enterprise product development and engineering take place. Today, 3Com is a $1.3 billion multi-national company, employing around 6,000 individuals in over 40 countries.
3Com has been a player in the enterprise network management marketplace for over a decade, with support for the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) in its product line since the 1990s. Its current product offering is called the 3Com Enterprise Management Suite Version 2.4, which provides a comprehensive management solution for larger enterprises. The system is based upon a client-server architecture, which runs on Windows and UNIX (Linux and Solaris) systems with extensions for HP OpenView and IBM Tivoli NetView, plus the IBM i5/OS. The Enterprise Management Suite is available in five different packages, and licensed depending upon the number of devices being managed, ranging from 20 to up to 5,000, with a fifth package available that handles an unlimited number of devices. Interestingly enough, 3Com does not count end stations, workstations, servers or IP telephones in the device count, which means that the smallest license (up to 20 devices) is recommended for managing the 3Com VCX VoIP system. All of these packages include full implementations of both the EMS server and the EMS client.
The Enterprise Management Suite is designed to provide a framework for implementing additional and more advanced management technologies that are required so support more complex networking infrastructures. The system includes a number of key functions:
- Heterogeneous network support: including LANs, WANs, wireless and converged voice/data/video infrastructures. Management functions for multi-location and multi-vendor enterprise systems can be carried out from a central location.
- Bulk task operations: including the scheduling of bulk operations such as configuration backup and restoration, software agent deployment, plus configuration roll-outs and roll-backs.
- Network configuration auditing: that provides change and configuration information that allows the network manager to analyze device configurations for any unauthorized ad-hoc changes.
- Network security: that assigns multi-user access controls, enabling varying access levels for different locations, plus an audit trail of any network changes that have occurred.
- High availability: with both active and standby servers which automatically switch if a server failure occurs.
- Converged networks support: including detailed performance statistics, and the ability to configure the system using SNMPv3.
- Secure management communications: using SSH (Secure Shell, a protocol that deploys public-key cryptography for communication between two devices), or SNMPv3 to encrypt management communications between server and clients.
- Event and Alarm Notifications: that track network events from a variety of sources, including users, traps, syslog messages and thresholds. E-mail notifications of device maintenance tools can be triggered from those events.
A trial version of the Enterprise Management Suite provides a 60-day evaluation period.
Further details on the 3Com architecture and products can be found at http://www.3com.com/. Our next two tutorials will wrap up our examination of vendors’ network management architectures, and provide a Buyer’s Guide for those that are shopping for solutions.