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Meet 3Com's new boss -- not the same old boss

Meet 3Com's new boss -- not the same old boss

Veteran Edgar Masri talks about why he came back to 3Com and his plans for the company

The TippingPoint group has been 3Com's focus over the last few years, in terms of company identity and technology focus. Will that change?

It's true that for the last few years, we've leveraged a key area of strength for us, which is security and TippingPoint technology. We are very committed to our architecture, which has been well defined and developed by [TippingPoint CTO, and 3Com CTO] Marc Willebeek-LeMair and his team. And we lead invariably with it in many of our customer engagements. However, we are a much bigger company now, especially with the integration of H3C. And now with our new Open Network Services (ONS) architecture.

Our success will hinge on leveraging, to the maximum, the infrastructure in China and Asia across the board -- R&D, IT, supply chain, customer services and support. The second one is to provide customers with best-of-breed solutions through an open architecture and an open networking platform.

Cisco was the leader in a competitive enterprise market when you were at 3Com in the 1990s. Now it dominates routing and switching. How do you plan to challenge them?

It's true you have Cisco as the 800-pound gorilla. Then you have several [other] companies vying to be number two. I look to a third set of companies. These companies are young, TippingPoint-like start-ups that support valuations and growth rates that are phenomenally strong. You've seen some of these WAN optimization companies that have recently gone public, as well as storage and content distribution and security companies. There is clearly now a bigger gap between Cisco and the second tier of vendors. [Instead of competing as the Cisco-alternative] we want to leverage the niche players in the market who will continue to grow. We want to be the vehicle through which you can embed a lot of those technologies.

What type of niche companies are you talking about in your partnering strategy?

The initial phase of the solution you'll see from partners will still be security. It will be beyond IPS. You'll see partnerships with best of breed -- start-ups who have been very successful in their niche, who are building to an open-source Linux platform, who can easily plug into what we have because of the middleware and SDKs we've provided. You will also see a second wave that will be more communications-services oriented. The third wave will be applications and [technology related to] WAN optimization ... We're going to reference, sell and co-market with anyone who has an open platform, using Linux or other open operating systems, and can easily integrate with our technology.

Besides partnering, does acquisition fit into your strategy?

If we were to acquire, the strategy you would see is small, very targeted acquisitions in the US$10 million to the US$30 million area, that fill a specific gap and play into certain areas -- security and application networking. This is more of a strategy as opposed to an action plan -- that we'll acquire companies A, B and C. You will more likely see us take a look at smaller companies and determine if partnership makes sense, and in an exceptional case, an acquisition.

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