Hewlett-Packard is ramping up the competition with Cisco Systems, IBM and others in the burgeoning converged data center space by integrated its ProCurve networking technology with its BladeSystems blade server platform.
HP engineers have been working to more closely tie the company's substantial data center hardware offerings with its increasingly competitive networking products. The integration of the two is a key step in bringing solutions into the unified data center fray, according to Matt Zanner, director of data center solutions at HP ProCurve.
"You end up with an unmatched position of strength for end-to-end data center [technologies]," Zanner said in an interview.
HP rolled out its new and enhanced offerings Sept. 16. Included in the announcement were the ProCurve 6120 series integrated with the BladeSystem cClass infrastructure, as well as new offerings in its ProCurve 8200 and 5400 Ethernet switch lineup.
The ProCurve 6120XG Blade Switch is aimed at virtualized and high-performance application environments, offering automated network connection management and provisioning via the ProCurve Data Center Connection Manager. It also offers users the ability to integrate Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks, another trend within the converged data center space.
HP's 6120G/XG Blade Switch enables IT administrators to run both Gigabit Ethernet and 10GbE networking equipment.
Zanner said the blade switches are designed to help drive down capital and operating expenses, as well as power consumption.
HP has an advantage over Cisco in the converged data center push in that it not only has the growing networking business, but also the established server and storage offerings, Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala said in an interview.
"Cisco has been talking about converged data centers," Kerravala said. "HP has a real opportunity ahead of them. They have all the data center components. They can pretty quickly ... pull it all together."
Cisco in March began expanding its reach in the data center beyond the networking gear with the announcement of its UCS (Unified Computing System), an all-in-one offering that includes a server, networking technology, storage and management software from itself and partners, such as EMC and VMware. HP countered later with its BladeSystems Matrix.
However, analysts have talked about the strides HP has made with its ProCurve networking unit, and the benefits it promised when combined with HP's strong server portfolio.
HP also is enabling customers using its 8200 and 5400 switches for such workloads as unified communications or video surveillance to user Power over Ethernet, which will help the cut power costs. In addition, the switches will now use common architecture, security and management tools through the portfolio.
In addition, HP enhanced its Virtual Connect offering that, combined with the BladeSystems hardware, can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 66 percent. The Virtual Connect solution now offers twice the Fibre Channel bandwidth at a lower cost through the Virtual Connect 8G 20-port module, aimed at virtualized environments. The new Virtual Connect Firmware with Virtual Connect Flex-10 enables IT administrators to dynamically change the network connections without having to reboot, and can support up to 128 virtual LANs.