HP Leverages SDN for Unified Wired, Wireless Networks

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-03-31

HP Leverages SDN for Unified Wired, Wireless Networks

Hewlett-Packard is leveraging new cloud-based and software-defined networking capabilities to expand its unified wired and wireless solutions, improve network management and offer a better experience for mobile users.

At Interop Las Vegas March 31, HP officials are unveiling a range of new offerings, from software-defined networking (SDN) systems and applications to wireless access points to managed services. The solutions are designed to help businesses not only manage the growing demand from their increasingly mobile employees for a better overall experience, but they also are intended to help turn the network from a cost center into a business asset, according to Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager for HP's Networking Business Unit and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Business.

They also will help small and midsize businesses (SMBs), as well as state and local government agencies, all of which tend to have few, if any, IT staff and don't want to have to manage their own networks.

"This is SDN now not only being able to lower costs, but also to monetize the networks," Mayer told eWEEK.

SDN offers the promise of being able to build more programmable, automated and flexible networks by decoupling the network intelligence from the underlying hardware and housing it in software-based controllers. HP is looking to leverage those capabilities not only in wired infrastructures, but also in the wireless realm, particularly given the rapid increase in the number of smartphones and tablets being used by mobile employees to connect into the network.

"Everybody has lots of devices … that they are bringing into work," she said. "Some are owned by the company and some are owned by the employee."

Either way, they are forcing the need to scale wireless infrastructures and to create unified wired and wireless solutions that enable organizations to manage both as if they were a single entity. A growing number of competitors, from Cisco Systems to Aruba Networks to Alcatel-Lucent, are rolling out such unified solutions. Extreme Networks officials unveiled similar products at Interop.

HP's Cloud Managed Network solution is aimed at SMBs and distributed offices to reduce what vendor officials said is the increased complexity of networking infrastructures. The cloud-enabled solution lets organizations do away with a lot of the up-front costs and ongoing operating expenses associated with networks. According to Mayer, the pay-per-use cloud solution will help reduce up-front costs by as much as 30 percent, with no need for on-site IT.

HP also is rolling out new 802.11ac wireless access points—the HP 560 and 517—to help businesses with the growing numbers of mobile devices connecting to the network. The 802.11ac access points offer three times the speed of 802.11n devices, and one of them—the 560—will support the OpenFlow SDN protocol, enabling mobile users to more easily leverage SDN applications. The access point will run on power-over-Ethernet (PoE).

Also on the wireless side, HP is partnering with Citrix Systems and MobileIron to offer enhanced mobile device management integration with HP's Intelligent Management Center. The integration also will bring greater security capabilities to organizations' bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, according to HP officials. In addition, HP is offering Security BYOD Services and IP Address Management Services to help get employees connected quickly.


HP Leverages SDN for Unified Wired, Wireless Networks

HP's new 870 and 850 Unified Wired-WLAN appliances further enable BYOD and mobile employees by offering policy management across wired and wireless networks. The appliances offer up to a 47 percent improvement in total cost of ownership and 40 percent increase in the number of mobile devices they support. The 870 supports up to 30,000 devices, while the 850 supports up to 10,000.

Through technology developed by HP Labs, the vendor also is rolling out its Location Aware SDN application, which helps businesses pinpoint wireless devices indoors with an accuracy of up to 2 meters, which Mayer said is five times better than other technologies. Tech vendors, from Cisco to Aruba Networks to Apple, are offering indoor location technologies to help such businesses as stores in malls determine where shoppers are and offer them deals over their mobile devices.

The application is being integrated into HP's Virtual Appliance Networks SDN controller, and is an example where HP is making it easier for businesses to make money from their networks, Mayer said. It's also an indication of the power of SDN in making networks more responsive to rapidly changing demands.

"I know there is debate about SDN. Is it happening? Is it real?" Mayer said. "Yes, it is happening, and it is real. You cannot do a good job with location awareness or with security … without SDN."

The vendor also is developing its SDN Roadmap Services, which give organizations a transition guide for moving to SDN.

HP's solutions and services will be rolled out over the course of several months. The 560 wireless access point is available now, while the 517 will be released in May. The 870 Unified Wired-WLAN appliance is available now, while the 850 will launch in June. The Secure BYOD Services and IP Address Management Series are available now, while the Cloud Managed Network solution and SDN Roadmap Services are coming in June.


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