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HP's core switch may live a shorter life

Hewlett-Packard has updated several areas of its enterprise networking portfolio, but a strategy change by an OEM partner may mean a shorter life span for its new core switch.

Hewlett-Packard Co. said its latest network hardware and software products increase performance and security while reducing complexity, but some believe the company may be reducing the life span of its newly released core switch.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor's ProCurve Networking group this week released products to support and extend its Adaptive EDGE Architecture, which builds intelligence into access devices at the edge of the network.

Ultimately, HP's approach dedicates the core of the network to tasks such as managing aggregation and routing traffic. To that end, ProCurve is introducing the following products:

  • ProCurve Routing Switch 9400sl series: A new generation core interconnect routing switch.
  • ProCurve Manager 2.0 and ProCurve Manager Plus 2.0: Upgraded network management software providing automatic control and better management of the network, as well as a Web access interface that simplifies the customer's product registration process.
  • Software enhancements for the ProCurve 5300xl switch family.
  • ProCurve Wireless Access Point 420 Series: These complimentary software updates provide a choice of security and authentication schemes, and quality of service support for applications like wireless VoIP.

    Steve Schuchart, analyst at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis Inc., said HP is offering reasonable prices, quality lifetime software upgrades, good functionality and reliable equipment. In fact, he said there's no reason why an enterprise customer shouldn't consider HP.

    However, Schuchart said customers should know that the 9400sl series core routing switch is actually a BigIron MG8 from Foundry Networks Inc.

    Traditionally, HP leveraged Foundry as an OEM for its large capacity switch products. But at Interop 2005, Foundry announced its new BigIron RX, which according to Schuchart, is a new core switch that essentially replaces BigIron MG8.

    For more information

    Read our exclusive on HP's plans to flatten the network core.

    Check out our white paper on HP's ProCurve technology.

    "This impacts HP because they just released this product, and it might not see the life span it was expecting to see from its development platform," he added. "But it's mitigated by the fact that HP will be releasing its own core switch product in the future."

    That product, Schuchart indicated, will be part of a new networking paradigm that HP will announce later this year.

    Schuchart said the 9400sl series is intended for existing customers needing an upgrade in speed and density, but aren't interested in moving away from the traditional networking paradigm.

    The 9400sl series, expected to be available in August, starts at $310,000. ProCurve Manager 2.0 and ProCurve Manager Plus 2.0 are expected to be available later this summer. ProCurve Manager Plus 2.0 starts at $3,100. The no-cost software enhancements for the ProCurve 5300xl switch series and Wireless Access Point 420 Series are slated to become available soon.

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