Core network switch rounds out ProCurve's architecture

ProCurve Networking by HP launched a new core switch that the vendor and experts said will round out its core-to-edge offerings.

ProCurve Networking by HP this week launched a new core switch that networking pros and experts said rounds out the No. 2 networking vendor's core-to-edge switching architecture.

The ProCurve Switch 8212zl ties together ProCurve's networking solutions to unify network infrastructure, software, operation, management and support. Based on the HP-developed ProVision ASIC technology, the 8212zl is part of a standards-based unified core-to-edge solution that also includes the 6200yl, 5400zl and 3500yl switch series.

Adding the 8212zl to the core, with ProCurve at the edge, unifies the infrastructure with common accessories and switch software and unifies management with common device and network management.

Infonetics Research directing analyst Matthias Machowinski said the addition of the 8212zl will ease integration among ProCurve's edge switch offerings. And at a time when many networks are homogeneous, he said, many companies are looking to one vendor for all of their networking gear.

"Most companies are only using one vendor," he said. "Overall, networks are pretty homogeneous, according to our research."

Infonetics last year found that roughly 80% of networks are single-vendor environments, Machowinski said. For ProCurve, the 8212zl fills a gap in completing a true core-to-edge offering.

"With this introduction, customers now have a range of core and edge switches that are designed to make it easier and less expensive to operate converged and highly complex networks," he said. "Because they are based on ProCurve architecture, they share common parts and improved management across devices – not many vendors offer this. ProCurve is already the No. 2 player in the networking industry, and this should further enhance its position in the marketplace."

ProCurve switch product manager Dan Montesanto said the 8212zl is a high-performance, scalable chassis core switch platform for Layers 2 through 4. It includes high-density Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and has high-availability features like hot-swappable, redundant management, fabric and power to ensure system continuity and enhance network productivity. Like most ProCurve offerings, the 8212zl also offers lifetime software and firmware updates, Montesanto said, and it has a lifetime warranty with standard next-business-day advanced replacement and phone and email support.

The switch has a 692 Gbps capacity, 288 Gigabit ports and 48 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports.

"It's based on their own architecture," Machowinski said of the core switch. "So you can see better integration between the edge and the core."

The ability to share common spare parts and better management across the architecture make the 8212zl a worthy core switch competitor, he added.

"It's going to make a better proposition for new customers," he said. "A customer isn't going to put Cisco in the core and have ProCurve at the edge. This integrates across the edge and the core."

Montesanto said the introduction of the 8212zl will "make people uncomfortable, in a good way." By people, he meant Cisco, he said, comparing Cisco's 6509E to a Ferrari and ProCurve's 8212zl to a high-end Lexus, both impressive luxury cars, but one offering more bang for the buck.

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"You can drive it as fast as you need to," he said, adding that the 8212zl's target is a network with between 5,000 and 8,000 users, and while Cisco may offer higher performance numbers in the 6500 series, that's more performance than many networks need.

ProCurve has offered core switches before, but those were based on different architectures that didn't provide such tight integration with its edge offerings.

"There's nothing revolutionary about the Ethernet switch market," Machowinski said. "But my guess is [the 8212zl] is going to give ProCurve some more share in the network core segment."

Brent Braun, network infrastructure and security specialist with the Appleton Area School District, agreed, noting that his top priorities when selecting the 8212zl for his core switch were ease of deployment, management and expansion, along with the warranty.

"My network is always changing," Braun said. "I need a core solution that reliably adapts to those changing requirements and lets me enhance it over time without a lot of management intervention and without costly or disruptive technology upgrades."

Along with the core switch, ProCurve also released the Wireless Edge Services zl Module for centralized WLAN configuration, management and advanced wireless service to the 8212zl core switch and 5400zl edge switch. The module falls in line with the ProCurve ProActive Defense security strategy, enabling immunity from threats and protection of data and integrity on the WLAN.

The module features Layer 3 roaming, a security guest portal with guest account administration, and integrated RADIUS and DHCP services. It also features a stateful packet inspection firewall and wireless intrusion detection.

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