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3Com tips the rift on network security

LAS VEGAS -- Kip McClanahan, president of 3Com Corp.'s TippingPoint division, is a 15-year veteran of the networking and software industries.

McClanahan served as CEO at TippingPoint Technologies Inc., which 3Com officially acquired earlier this year.

@10819 McClanahan spoke with at Interop 2005 about the acquisition, life at 3Com and the future of network security.

What's the latest on the 3Com-TippingPoint acquisition, pertaining to its completion and the product transitions?
The acquisition closed January 31, 2005. TippingPoint is now operating as a wholly owned division of 3Com. By integrating TippingPoint's network-based Intrusion Prevention System into its portfolio, 3Com can deliver secure, converged networks to the enterprise market. Later this year, 3Com will introduce a blade version of the TippingPoint system that will be integrated with its switch products, combining switching and intrusion prevention into one unit. Since the acquisition, coupled with 3Com's recent layoffs, what is the demeanor of the company's workforce?
No one was fired and the acquisition doesn't call for a layoff. TippingPoint brought over about 125 employees, and everyone is very excited because they are now a part of a bigger opportunity with a lot more resources. We're in growth mode right now from both a personnel and product standpoint. It's a really eager environment be a part of.

I think John Chambers just learned how to spell IPS a couple months ago.
Kip McClanahan,
What are the most notable trends you're seeing right now in enterprise network security?
Networking and security converging is a big trend. Microsoft is getting more involved and throwing a real wrench in the appliance and security space. But the most significant thing is IPS growing as the next up-and-coming market. I think John Chambers [president and CEO of Cisco Systems] just learned how to spell IPS a couple months ago -- it was a long time coming, but translates to its arrival. What are the key differentiators of the new managed services strategy 3Com unveiled at Interop 2005?
3Com realizes there is a big challenge in providing specialized managed services. We supply a box that can be deployed as a managed service -- we take those switches and give them to providers, and it deploys it as a service. Have they ever offered voice or security management? Absolutely, all the time. It's been done before, but never with the help that we're going to provide.

We're improving and surpassing what's been done before with what we feel is a critical component of a managed service: the automation of business processes such as activation, ongoing management, support and reporting. The new strategy unveils managed services based on 3Com's NBX voice equipment, TippingPoint's IPS security and 3Com's switches and routers for infrastructure. What's the ideal role of Web filtering software in networking equipment?
Web filtering is a generic term with a lot of things wrapped up in it. When we talk about Web filtering, we're talking very specifically about security. The role of filtering traffic through security has a big role in networking equipment, as well as being a standalone deployable entity over any and all network equipment. The 3Com perspective is that security has a role, overlaid or embedded, and customers should be able to dictate how that happens and how it gets deployed. Some vendors try to lock you in; we give you options.

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Can you walk through a real-life example of how your Web filtering product benefits customers?
High-level, this looks like a piece of networking gear where bad traffic goes in and only the good traffic goes out. What's happening at a low level is customers are putting this box next to their firewall and at the core of their network. It is able to do packet processing and other rocket-science to look at every bit of traffic to separate the malicious and the good traffic in real time. Cisco Systems Inc., with its Integrated Services Routers, is making a big push regarding on-board security services in its enterprise routers. How is 3Com competing with that?
By having a far superior security product. Cisco is making a big marketing push regarding on-board security services, but we deliver it far better than they do. If customers are shopping for a bullet-proof vest, the smart ones don't go bargain hunting. The smart ones test out all the products and purchase the one that performs the best. That's us.

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