EDS is to resell 3Com equipment, a move intended to offer the service provider's clients another choice in enterprise networking products. EDS already has an alliance with 3Com rival Cisco Systems, the leader in the enterprise networking market.

EDS will resell 3Com switches, routers and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) enterprise networking products. The agreement's scope is global but will initially be rolled out in the US and UK. The first two vertical markets to be targeted will be the retail and finance industries; other verticals will be added later.

The EDS deal is the first global agreement 3Com is doing with a tier-one IT services provider, said 3Com spokeswoman Karin Bakis. "This is an extremely big deal for 3Com," she said. 3Com feels it has a strong reseller network targeting small and medium-size companies, and the EDS agreement "gives us a real entrance into the larger Fortune 500 enterprise market," she said.

3Com expects to sign similar deals with other IT services providers, she said. EDS, in Plano, Texas, is the world's second largest IT services provider in terms of revenue, behind IBM's Global Services unit.

As part of its push to take on Cisco in the enterprise networking space, 3Com recently formed a joint venture with Huawei Technologies Co., based in Shenzhen, China, to develop and sell enterprise networking products. Huawei-3Com Co. Ltd., based in Hong Kong with principal operations in Hangzhou, China, will market products such as routers and LAN switches in China and Japan, while 3Com will sell them elsewhere in the world.