3Com on the hunt for acquisitions?

3Com on the hunt for acquisitions?

In a recent report filed with the US. Securities and Exchange Commission, 3Com said it might use acquisitions to expand its product offerings. The vendor specifically mentioned an acquisition in the Layer 4-7 switching market.

"It is becoming more likely that we will pursue acquisitions to accelerate our growth potential," CEO, Bruce Claflin, said in the report, repeating statements he made during a recent conference with investors. "The areas of most interest to the company are in small technology companies that round out our technology portfolio and Layer 4-7 switching."

3Com previously offered a Layer 4-7 switch, the SuperStack 3 ContentSwitch, based on technology resold from TopLayer Networks -- a Layer 4-7 start-up now more focused on security products.

"There are only a couple of different vendors left that are pure-play Layer 4-7 companies," said Abner Germanow, an analyst with IDC, citing F5 Networks and Radware. Most of the Layer 4-7 start-ups that emerged in the late 1990s were acquired. Most notably, Cisco purchased ArrowPoint and Nortel bought Alteon.

Foundry also develops its own Layer 4-7 switches.

"Unless there's something we don't know about, 3Com isn't going to acquire any of those vendors anytime soon," Germanow said.

Observers claim another obvious gap in 3Com's product portfolio is security products, such as firewalls and intrusion-detection system gear.

3Com resells products from SonicWall and recently partnered with Crossbeam Systems to resell that company's security switch.

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