HEWLETT-PACKARD (HP) is making a move into the telecom equipment market by striking a $3.1bn (£1.9bn) deal for 3Com, in a major challenge to Cisco Systems.<br /><br />The deal is the latest sign that technology giants from IBM to Oracle are increasingly encroaching in each other’s markets as they seek to become one-stop shops for computing, networking and storage equipment. Cisco itself this year pushed into the computer server market, of which HP is a major player.<br /><br />HP, which also reported higher-than-expected preliminary earnings yesterday, said it would pay $7.90 per share for 3Com, a 39 per cent premium over its closing price. The deal values 3Com at $2.7bn excluding its net cash.<br /><br />“Cisco and HP are going to compete more and more,” said Jayson Noland, analyst at Robert W. Baird. “We’re headed to a world where each of these large companies can give you everything you want.”<br /><br />By buying 3Com, HP will be competing head to head with Cisco in a wider range of network equipment, including routers and switches. 3Com also has a large presence in China and can help HP expand sales into one of the world’s fastest-growing markets, analysts said.<br /><br />3Com, for its part, has been pushing into the large enterprise market outside China with its H3C brand, trying to take on giants like Cisco. Marius Haas, senior vice president of HP’s ProCurve division, said the 3Com deal puts HP in a good position to compete against Cisco.