HP FlexNetwork to Undercut Cisco on PriceBy Chris Talbot | Posted 2011-05-10 Email Print
At its own press event nearby the Interop networking convention, HP rolled out its new FlexNetwork unified line of networking products for the data center, campus and branch, promising lower prices for the solutions than ones offered by networking giant Cisco.
HP (NYSE:HPQ) is tying together existing, new and future products into a new networking architecture the company is called FlexNetwork, and pricing it lower than comparable products from Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).
During the press conference for the launch of FlexNetwork, HP had some tough words for networking giant Cisco, which positioned its own networking architectures recently at the Cisco Partner Summit. Cisco has also recently said that it is returning to its core focus, networking, after having lost its way.
As a core component to its converged infrastructure strategy, HP FlexNetwork is being defined as a unified architecture for the data center, campus and branch. HP's FlexNetwork architecture is being positioned with three key pillars – faster performance, lower latency and easier management.
"In general, for the large part of the market, innovation is what’s going to drive success going forward," said Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager for ESSN (Enterprise Storage Server Networking) at HP Enterprise Business.
With an eye towards best-of-breed architectures built around HP networking products, HP is challenging Cisco yet again in what HP executives see as Cisco’s single-vendor, proprietary products approach.
"What HP is doing today is announcing a new industry-leading network architecture that incorporates and converges the data center, the campus and the branch environment into modular building blocks that are optimized and integrated for simplicity, ease of use across all components of the network," said Marius Haas, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking.
There are four key modular building blocks to the architecture. FlexFabric was designed to simplify data center infrastructure across virtual and physical environments, in part to accommodate hybrid cloud computing models. FlexCampus is focused on improving performance and reducing latency in campus environments across wired and wireless networks. FlexBranch takes the approach to branch offices to simplify networking and security in those remote offices. FlexManagement is meant to make it simple to manage multiple systems through a single pane of glass.
Many product elements of the architecture are already available, but HP announced several new offerings, including a new version of its Intelligent Management Center (IMC). IMC v5 was designed to simplify network management on HP and third-party devices.
"We manage 2,600 devices from 35 manufacturers, and over 1,000 of those devices are from Cisco. Customers tell us that we manage Cisco better than Cisco," Haas said. Again, more tough words for the incumbent powerhouse of the networking industry. Cisco representatives were not available by press time for comment.
IMC v5 has been outfitted with the ability to do auto-discovery of both physical and virtual switches, and the new Active Control tool that’s part of IMC automatically synchronizes between IMC and VirtualConnect.
"Built from the ground up, IMC delivers what IT has been asking for – complete control of physical and virtual resources from a single pane of glass," said Les Stuart, distinguished architect at HP Networking.
Another major announcement related to the launch of FlexNetwork is the A10500 Series enterprise core switches, which is being kicked off in the second half of 2011 with three models. According to HP, the A10500 Series will compare very favourably to Cisco’s Catalyst switches and will provide lower latency and higher performance.
"Features, functions are interesting and exciting but only if you can truly compare it to what’s out there from the competition in the market," Haas said.
HP also announced new line cards for the E5400 and E8200 switches, which Haas said also offer significant gains on performance and reduction in latency.
In the realm of security, HP announced the TippingPoint S6100N IPS appliance. The new IPS hits a new high point in inspected throughput speeds. The S6100N can provide 8Gbps of inspected throughput, and when two are virtualized, that inspected throughput rate goes up to 16Gbps. According to Erik Papir, worldwide technical marketing manager for HP Networking, the S6100N inspection throughput rate almost doubles the previous best.
HP’s promise of lifetime warranties for its product will stand.
"In summary, we are delivering a whole new FlexNetwork architecture that is the industry’s only single network architecture across the data center, across the campus and the branch with a single pane of glass management solution," Haas said.