3Com's virtual private network (VPN) strategy came into clearer focus last week with the introduction of the company's PathBuilder 500 product.
The device is what 3Com calls a "Layer 3 Tunnel Switch", designed to allow users to build secure VPNs, in which the public Internet substitutes for a private enterprise network.
A Layer 3 Tunnel Switch, according to 3Com, supports a tunnelling protocol, such as the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, to encrypt data traversing the Internet; hardware that encrypts traffic at wire-speed; and full wire-speed, Layer 3 routing.
The PathBuilder 500 encrypts data at 100Mbps, which 3Com claims is two to three times faster than competitive offerings, such as Cisco's PIX Firewall and Nortel Networks' Contivity Extranet Switch.
The box impressed Phil Schacter, a senior analyst at The Burton Group in the US. His only concern is that "it's not all there yet in terms of the tunnelling protocol support . . . once they finish the job with Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol and IP Security support it will be a great remote access solution, too," Schacter said.