The introduction of 3Com’s new Wide Area Acceleration Module (WAAM) enables users of its premium Gigabit stackable switch line, the Switch 5500G family, to significantly improve application performance and visibility across their Wide Area Networks (WAN) without having to increase bandwidth.

Ankcorn Fernihough, senior systems engineer for 3Com South Africa, says that 3Com has enhanced the business value of switches in networks by adding intelligence to them. “In most networks, a switch is a commodity – as common and as necessary electricity in a building. Without a switch a network won’t work and you can buy one from any vendor and get connectivity from point a to point B.
“What 3Com has done is allow our switches to take on an intelligent module which runs on open source software. You can upload any application or functionality into the module and, thereby, immediately enhance the functionality of your network or network device. You also increase the lifespan of the device, reducing your operating expenditure, and increasing the functionality of your network.
“Our new WAAM is a superb example. By inserting it into a switch – or a stack of eight switches – you can enable a data WAN to carry voice. We’ve made it that easy to get Voice over IP (VoIP) capabilities.”
Remote workers have massively increased the number of people accessing applications over the WAN. At the same time, server virtualisation and the creation of larger centralised application hosting centres mean that progressively more applications are now running across WAN links rather than being locally hosted at remote sites.
Most applications aren’t designed or optimised for WAN access. So, many enterprises are experiencing bottlenecks, excessive latency, and packet loss – all of which impact application response and availability, impeding organisational performance.
With the addition of WAN optimisation,  Ankcorn says, the Switch 5500G is ideal for organisations that rely on web-based applications, employ remote access thin client software and remote file systems, or need to operate VoIP and other bandwidth-hungry or delay-sensitive applications to remote locations.
“The WAAM module optimises applications over your WAN to deliver similar speed, reliability and Quality of Service controls normally associated with local area networks.
“It therefore allows you to enjoy high-quality voice calls and accelerate a whole range of business-critical applications for remote locations and users, while gaining unprecedented visibility and management of applications over the WAN.
“Best of all, you don’t have to change or upgrade your existing WAN routers to achieve all this.”
To ensure optimum functionality and performance, 3Com developed its new WAAM in partnership with Expand Networks, the market-leading provider of WAN application acceleration solutions. Expand took advantage of 3Com’s Open Services Network (OSN) architecture to embed WAN optimisation technology directly into 3Com’s products.
The WAAM will be available in South Africa this month (April 2008).