HP Leverages SDN for Unified Wired, Wireless Networks

At Interop, HP unveils OpenFlow-enabled 802.11ac wireless access points, new unified management appliances and an SDN app for location awareness.

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.