HP Fights Back Against Cisco
"Cisco really took the gloves off with HP with the UCS, and that was intended," said James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research. The growth of converged data centers and cloud computing is putting a greater premium on networking, and while HP has been investing in its ProCurve networking products for a while, it can't match up with what Cisco has to offer, Staten said."This [alliance] is much more a hedge against Cisco than a cloud play," he said, though it also will benefit HP in that arena. HP's networking capabilities primarily lie within the data center, with switches that enable such communications as those between racks of server or between PCs and remote offices. What it didn't have-before the Alcatel-Lucent partnership-were core switches that essentially allow networks to communicate or aggregate networks. Cisco has always had both, and such networks are increasingly important as data centers evolve and cloud computing becomes more popular. It also means that HP can lessen its reliance on Cisco as a partner, Staten said. Cisco is too big of a player in the networking world for HP to end its partnership following the UCS move, but HP wanted to stem the growth of that partnership, and now can do that to some extent, Staten said. On the cloud computing side, HP needs to find a way to catch up to what Cisco and IBM can offer. IBM is making a strong play in that arena. In February, IBM created a cloud computing division, and it further expanded on its cloud strategy June 16. One advantage IBM has in this area is its Global Services unit, which not only offers services to customers but also hosting capabilities. It's not a huge stretch to go from hosting to cloud computing, Staten said. Right now, HP only has the services. HP needs to build up its offerings, and the Alcatel-Lucent alliance can help it in the networking side. Enterprises are increasingly going to be looking for ways to have not only their own private cloud environments, but also the ability to use public clouds, and to move services between the two. That is going to take significant networking capabilities, he said.
Teaming up with Alcatel-Lucent expands those networking capabilities, Staten said.