New HP 5400R chassis closet switch takes on Catalyst 4500

HP announced the next-generation version of a popular campus switch. The HP 5400R chassis has more resiliency and throughput than its predecessor.

HP Networking unveiled a new generation of its popular modular 5400zl campus access switch.

The new HP 5400R zl2 replaces the eight-year-old 5400zl series, offering a switching backplane that supports more 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port density at a similar price.

HP has long sold the 5400R as an alternative to Cisco's modular Catalyst 4500 and Cisco's stackable switches, since HP has always priced the 5400 to compete with a stack of Cisco switches with equivalent bandwidth.

The HP 5400R is available in six- and 12-slot models. The larger 5412R backplane has a total switching capacity of 2 terabites per second (Tbps), nearly a threefold improvement over the 758 gigabits per second (Gbps) available in the backplane of the previous generation of switches. The new switch also supports dual supervisor modules, a resiliency feature not available in the older switches.

The port modules and service modules of the older 5400zl chassis are compatible with the new switches, said Steve Brar, manager of global product marketing at HP. Despite the new backplane capacity, HP has not announced any new port modules for the 5400R, but the switch is getting a new generation of supervisor modules out of the gate.

"[The HP 5400R] is the next iteration of an extremely popular switch for them," said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for Milford, Massachusetts-based Enterprise Strategy Group.

Laliberte said the 5400R is well-timed for enterprises that are planning to upgrade the aggregation layer of their campus networks to 10 GbE. He said that his research shows about 80% of organizations are making or planning such upgrades today. These upgrades are driven by the transition to 802.11ac wireless LAN and other high-bandwidth demands, such as video communications.

Like nearly all of HP's switches, the 5400R supports OpenFlow 1.0 and 1.3, the two most recent versions of the SDN protocol that are widely supported by vendors.

The 5400R's OpenFlow support includes a 50% improvement in the set-up time of OpenFlow flows on the switch, HP's Brar said. This will improve the performance of applications running in an HP SDN environment, he said.

"SDN in the campus hasn't been widely pushed yet by the vendors. It's mostly been focused in the data center and then there has been a bit of a push into the WAN. The interesting thing is, the campus might be the best place to introduce it into an environment," said Andrew Lerner, research director for Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner.

The new chassis switches are available worldwide with a starting list price of $2,419 for the six-slot model and $4,599 for the 12-slot model.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, news director, or follow him on Twitter @ShamusTT.

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