Interoperability and openness will be the keys to the network in the future, 3Com claimed, as it announced Linux-based blades for its 6000-series routers that will let them run third-party apps.
The vendor also unveiled a technology partner programme to help others make their hardware and software interoperate with 3Com's.
The company said it wants to develop an ecosystem around its open systems networking (OSN), IP telephony, and security gear. It added that there's already four apps available to run on the router module: security software from Q1 Labs, a traffic optimiser from Converged Access, Vericept's compliance software, and VMware.
The module also runs provisioning, management, security, and control tools for the router. Called OSN|M, for Open Services Networking Module, it is separate from the proprietary operating software inside the router and communicates with it via an open interface, according to 3Com.
The company said it will also port its own IP PBX software and TippingPoint IDS/IPS to the router module. It claimed that its choice of an open source platform able to run standard software makes OSN|M a more flexible choice than Cisco's similar application blade for routers.
"OSN has the ability to drive a significant change in the networking landscape towards open, flexible multi-vendor integration," 3Com president and CEO Edgar Masri said.
The company added that those signing up for its open partner programme would get marketing and technical support, including development tools and access to 3Com resellers and test labs.
3Com's new-found love of interoperability and open systems makes a refreshing change in an area where companies usually want to do everything themselves, or carefully select their hardware and software development partners. However, the company still has a lot of lost ground to make up in the Cisco-dominated enterprise routing market.®