3Com Stakes Claim in Policy-Based Networking Market

Following the lead of its networking rivals, 3Com Corp. announced a partnership to deliver policy-powered networking. The alliance is with IPHighway Inc. (www.iphighway.com), a developer of policy-driven quality of service (ThruQoS) technology solutions for network service providers and enterprise corporate networks.

Under the terms of the agreement, 3Com will bundle elements of IPHighway's Open Policy System (OPS) 2.0 into the Transcend policy management system.

The 3Com Transcend policy management system is a standards-based, multivendor policy solution.

IPHighway's software is designed to prioritize IP network environments so they reliably deliver time-critical and bandwidth-intensive information, allowing for convergence of voice, video, and data traffic.

Building on 3Com's existing policy components, the joint development partnership with IPHighway will deliver a suite of policy management solutions for enterprise customers, carriers, and service providers.

Kathy Rocha, vice president and general manager of 3Com's network management division, says the agreement will accelerate the delivery of policy management solutions that enhance critical business applications, permit secure access from remote sites, and improve network availability.

"It's a natural evolution and extension of our experience in delivering policy enforcement and management components, and will make possible policy-powered networks managed in response to business requirements, rather than by increasing network complexity," she says.

Through 3Com's policy-powered networking solutions, administrators will gain tools to manage existing network resources more efficiently, including mission critical applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), billing, and accounting.

The first policy management product, planned for delivery in the second quarter of 2000, will enable IT managers to automatically prioritize WAN traffic based on network capabilities and customer needs. The solution will support open industry standards, including COPS, LDAP, and DiffServ.

In its initial release, 3Com's Transcend policy management system will prioritize network traffic in the WAN, supporting 3Com's PathBuilder and NETBuilder devices, as well as Cisco routers.

The Transcend policy management system will allow networks to be automatically and dynamically configured according to user and application requirements and network behavior.

Its distributed policy architecture, which adheres to all open policy standards, will be designed to scale to most sizes of customer networks, and will leverage Novell, Netscape, and Microsoft directories.

Subsequent versions of the Transcend policy management system will offer security, user-based policies, and prioritization from end-stations through the LAN to the WAN. The solution is intended to simplify network operations, reduce complexity, and eliminate single vendor lock-in for managing multivendor environments.

Analysts believe policy management will speed the implementation of new technologies such as voice and streaming video over the WAN to remote sites, branch offices, or third-party locations.

A report by market research firm Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com), titled "3Com Takes the IP Highway on Policy," says that most enterprises and service providers are not ready to implement end-to-end policy networking. The first version of this policy manager, however, will only address LAN and WAN edge needs, such as routers.

The second version of the Transcend policy management system, scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of next year, will add policy management for enterprise LANs and true end-to-end policy implementation through the support of end-station CoS via 3Com's DynamicAccess software and Microsoft's QoS technology in Windows 2000. In addition, this release is expected to incorporate policy-based voice-over-IP features, and is intended to provide enhanced VPN security.

3Com and IPHighway also will work together to simplify and reduce the complexity of network management, to advance industry standards, and to evolve user-based policy management. Other areas of joint effort will include enhancing network security, supporting additional network devices, and integrating end-station and user-based information into the policy management system.

In the Current Analysis report, senior analyst Ron Westfall states, "3Com needed to strike a partnership with IPHighway in order to show that the company can create policy networking solutions that leverage the company's networking technology, while not obligating users to adopt a one-vendor policy solution."