HP has made a somewhat-surprise move and acquired 3Com, a venerable but now fallen giant in the networking field, and the move is very likely an explicit a changing of the guard with respect to enterprise networking.
We’ve noted that the control of network decisions is passing to data center IT personnel, and thus that network sales engagement means having IT products in the portfolio. HP obviously has them and is just as obviously now planning to expand its network portfolio.
But we think Brocade’s purchase of Foundry and Cisco’s decision to enter the server space is the catalyst for the move. 3Com has a new data center switch product that could significantly augment the HP portfolio, and also a relationship with Huawei and a position in Asia.
Tapping the China market is likely an early goal for the deal. The HP move could put pressure on IBM, which has been relying on partnership relationships in networking rather than fielding its own product. It may also put some of the smaller vendors in the LAN space into play, including Extreme, and possibly Brocade or Juniper.