3Com

Next big tech rivalry: HP vs. Cisco

November 12, 2009: 7:00 AM ET

It's official. Silicon Valley has a new mega-rivalry: Hewlett-Packard vs. Cisco.

Until this week, the two juggernauts had competed at the edges of their product portfolios. Now the gloves are off. That's the subtext to HP's (HPQ) announcement Wednesday that it will buy networking equipment maker 3Com (COMS) for $2.7 billion in cash.

With 3Com in his arsenal, HP CEO Mark Hurd will be able to more effectively attack one of Cisco's (CSCO) most profitable businesses: supplying companies with gear that manages and secures data traffic. Maybe this aggressive move from HP was inevitable after Cisco decided to get into the server business. Maybe HP actually started this a long time ago with its ProCurve product. Either way, it's war now. More

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