3Com customers welcome HP

Hope customer service won’t lose out once HP buys 3Com, seek a VoIP product boost

3Com customers contacted in the wake of this week's blockbuster HP-3Com buyout news were generally positive, but did voice some concerns on product direction and customer relations.

Customers said they considered HP's willingness to fork over $2.7 billion an endorsement of the vendor and technology they deployed. They also welcomed HP's wide array of resources, deep pockets and overall stability.

"I'm actually relieved to hear the news," says Jeff Hoge, IT manager at Primland, Ltd., a resort and event facility in southwestern Virginia. "Primland has a significant investment in 3Com products and HP's buyout should improve the longevity of our equipment."

"We were surprised," says Fred Tarca, associate vice president of information services at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. "But it validates everything we originally felt about 3Com. Hewlett-Packard's endorsement makes us feel that we were not far off base when we did our own technical due diligence on 3Com. We feel really good about that."

"It's all good," says Ted Malos, IT director for the Ventura Unified School District in California. "My last employer was an all-HP shop," he said, making note of the company's service and support reputation.

3Com co-founder Bob Metcalfe's quick take on the HP-3Com deal

But Ventura is now 95% 3Com – the other 5% is HP -- and Malos is comfortable managing this environment from 3Com's Intelligent Management Center suite. That's a potential product overlap area where he hopes 3Com wins out over HP.

The service and support aspect Malos raves about gives Tarca pause. He hopes to retain a close relationship with HP once all the dust settles.

"We've always had good luck dealing with companies where we had strong relationships with key management, " Tarca says. "Now we're dealing with a company that's huge. Will we lose our ability to negotiate and discuss our real requirements with HP the same way we could do so with 3Com?"

For Tarca, this is the second time HP has bought its way into the Quinnipiac IT department. The school was a customer of LeftHand Networks, a storage vendor HP bought a year ago.

"Where we keep our information and now what it travels on will be HP-owned," Tarca says. "We never really dealt with HP and then all of the sudden they became an important vendor."

That's true with Primland as well, where it's waiting to see what, if anything, happens to 3Com's NBX/VCX VoIP products after the acquisition closes. HP does not have a VoIP or enterprise IP telephony product line of its own, instead relaying on partnerships with Microsoft and Avaya, among others.

"The product synergies should be very interesting to see -- I could imagine an H3C switch module for BladeCenter and the VCX running on HP servers," says Hoge, who seems anxious for anyone to update the product line.

"As a current NBX administrator (and former NBX integrator), it is frustruating to see no significant product features being added to that platform in the last few years; meanwhile, Cisco, Avaya, and Mitel have left 3Com in the dust in the telephony market," Hoge says.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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