Networking resellers can expect the battle for the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) customer to intensify after 3Com became the latest vendor to add fuel to the market fire last week.
The vendor has released a new range of OfficeConnect products, in addition to new offerings such as firewalls and print servers that it claims will give resellers an opportunity to value-add.
The launch comes at a time when competitors such as Nortel Networks, Cisco and Intel are heating up their plans for the SME market, threatening 3Com's dominant position with a market share of 30 per cent.
Nortel recently boosted its relationship with Tech Pacific to help push its BayStack hubs and switches into the SME market. The company also has an active channel pushing its SOHO and SMB networking range known as NetGear.
Intel is working hard to establish itself in the mid-size enterprise networking market, reporting it wants to appoint five new resellers before Christmas which coincided with the launch of its 6000 Series Switch and the Express 9500 and 8200 routers (ARN, September 22, page 20).
Meanwhile, Cisco has announced a partnership with Cable & Wireless Optus (ARN, September 22, page 4) to deliver packaged Internet and networking solutions to the SME market from November.
Chris Stevens, 3Com's product marketing manager, said OfficeConnect will continue to remain central to the company's SME market aspirations.
"We aren't resting on our laurels," he said.
Unlike its competitors where enterprise products are largely scaled down for SME applications, Stevens claims 3Com's advantage is its specifically designed products.
"Our aim is to design dedicated products for the SME market," he said.
Stevens said the solutions will give SME resellers the ability to add value because of their Internet and LAN application.
"I think they see 3Com as a brand they can rely on," he said.
The OfficeConnect line-up includes the Fast Ethernet Networking Kit, a range of new Internet Firewall products designed for LANs, an alliance with Hewlett-Packard to supply it with OfficeConnect print servers, the addition of USB support to the 56Kbps Business Modem, an online networking educational program called The Learning Centre, and the addition of free telephone and Web support plus a limited lifetime warranty.http://www.3com.comhttp://learningcenter.3com.com