HP Challenges Cisco Routers

Although Cisco may not be quaking in its boots, Hewlett-Packard has challenged some of Cisco's weaknesses with the first of several routers it is planning to add to its ProCurve Networking family.

Although Cisco Systems Inc. may not be quaking in its boots, Hewlett-Packard Co. has challenged some of Ciscos weaknesses with the first of several routers it is planning to add to its ProCurve Networking family.

The ProCurve Networking unit from the Palo Alto, Calif., company adds a pair of branch/regional office routers that challenge comparable Cisco routers on price, maintenance, and ease of configuration and management, said Brice Clark, global director of strategic planning for HPs ProCurve Networking, in Roseville, Calif.

The ProCurve Secure Router 7000dl- series routers are half the price of comparable Cisco routers and offer wire-speed performance. "Our warranty is lifetime on hardware and software. That is unprecedented in the router market space," said Clark.

Although HP ProCurve switch customers who signed up to test the new routers are taking a wait-and-see approach, they are hopeful that the new routers will deliver on their promise, according to Tom Jenkins, network services manager at Security Finance Corp., in Spartanburg, S.C.

"If the cost points are what they say, itll be much less expensive than the Cisco alternatives. The other thing thats attractive is the lifetime firmware upgrades and software support," said Jenkins.

ProCurve Networking also sought to make the new routers competitive by building firewall and NAT (Network Address Translation) security features into the routers, which also offer optional VPN features that include an easy-to-use configuration manager, Clark said.

HP also includes traffic prioritization for VOIP (voice over IP), although HP does not integrate all the functions necessary for VOIP, said Nick Lippis, president of Lippis Consulting, in Hingham, Mass. "You still need a separate voice device, communication manager or even Ciscos Call Manager Express behind it," Lippis said.

Despite 3Com Corp.s re-entry into the enterprise router space, Lippis said he believes that the market has been lacking "a major second source" for routers. "Vulnerable isnt the right word, but conditions are right for a major player like HP with the breadth of products and services to go after that market and gain share," he said.

The two routers include the 7102dl, which has two slots for WAN interface modules and can support up to four T-1/E-1 links. The 7203dl router has two slots for WAN interface modules and one wide slot that can accept an eight-port T-1/E-1 module. It can support a total of 12 T-1/E-1 links. Both routers are due in April, and the chassis are $1,499 and $2,999, respectively. Modules range from $399 up to $3,999 for the eight-port T-1/E-1 module.

HPs ProCurve Networking unit also integrates the functions of its separate secure wireless networking appliance into a new Access Controller Module for the ProCurve 5300xl LAN switch. The module provides users with secure access to appropriate network services on any of HPs ProCurve 5300xl edge switches.

The Access Controller Module provides a personalized view of the network based on business need, seamless Layer 3 roaming across multiple IP address domains and wireless data privacy with 19 VPN clients supported. It also integrates with existing authentication mechanisms, including Microsoft Corp.s Active Directory, industry standard Kerberos, RADIUS and LDAP. It is also due in April and lists at $5,499.


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