HP ProCurve Completes Switching Line

HP's first core chassis switch will put greater pressure on rival Cisco.

Hewlett-Packards ProCurve networking unit on Sept. 10 will cap its drive to be the primary challenger to Cisco Systems in the network switching arena when it launches its first core chassis switch.

The new ProCurve Switch 8212zl, which uses HPs own ProVision application-specific integrated circuits, is intended to be ProCurves primary challenger to Ciscos Catalyst 6500 and its fallback Catalyst 4500 switch.

It completes ProCurves edge-to-core switching strategy, which emphasizes common technology, software, power supplies and interface modules as a competitive advantage, said Dan Montesanto, switch product manager for HP ProCurve, in Roseville, Calif.

"The versioning of code in the products will also be consistent, which means customers can simplify version control and the administrative process. And we have common device management across the infrastructure," he said.

Although ProCurve will continue to offer a pair of high-end switches it resold from Foundry Networks, the new ProCurve 8212zl targets mid- to high-end enterprises with networks of 5,000 seats or more, Montesanto said.

It also carries ProCurves lifetime warranty, which could be the first for a core chassis switch, said Matthias Machowinski, an analyst with Infonetics Research.

"HP has had the lifetime warranty for a while [on existing switches], and I havent seen anyone else come out with it. It is their differentiator. All things being equal, it sweetens the deal," he said.

The lifetime warranty offers a cost advantage, "but more fundamentally, it just takes the contract administration hassle out of it," said Montesanto.


Read more here about other ProCurve switches.

The new ProCurve 8212zl emphasizes high performance and high availability. It provides an aggregate switching capacity of 692G bps and supports up to 288 Gigabit Ethernet or 48 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. At the same time, it supports redundant management, fabric and power supply modules. Those modules, along with interface and service modules as well as the fan tray, can be hot-swapped.

To better support enterprises adopting voice over IP, ProCurve made Power over Ethernet standard on all copper Gigabit Ethernet ports.

In the switchs software feature set, ProCurve emphasized enterprise rather than service provider functions. It supports Layer 2 through Layer 4 switching, industry standard routing protocols, such as Open Shortest Path First, and quality of service prioritization.

HP also on Sept. 10 will add a new wireless services module for the ProCurve 8212zl. The new ProCurve Wireless Edge Services zl module, which also works in the ProCurve 5400zl Series Intelligent Edge switches, supports as many as 156 ProCurve Radio Ports and provides 1GB of wireless throughput.

ProCurve emphasizes security in the new wireless module, with support for RADIUS encryption, a stateful packet inspection firewall and wireless intrusion detection as well as IEEE 802.1x, Media Access Control and Access Control List security.

The wireless module also supports Layer 3 roaming and a guest portal with guest account administration.

The new core ProCurve switch could serve to solidify HPs ranking as the second largest switch supplier to Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., besting rivals such as Nortel Networks, Foundry Networks and Extreme Networks, said Machowinski.

"I dont think theyre going to run Cisco out of business, but they have clearly crystallized as the No. 2 player to Cisco," he said.

Ciscos lead over its challengers is significant. Machowinski said Cisco did $800 million in switching revenue for 2006. Cisco generated $10 billion.

Still, ProCurve is growing quickly by taking market share away from competitors. HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., announced late last month that market researcher DellOro Group found that the company increased its worldwide switch port shipments in the second quarter of 2007 by 46 percent over the same quarter last year, while the overall market grew 21 percent.

"ProCurves done a good job of sucking the blood out of all the carcasses Cisco has left behind, [including] Nortel, 3Com and Extreme," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "They have taken all the [market] share theyre going to get from them. For [ProCurve] to continue to grow, theyll have to take share from Cisco. But battling Cisco is a much different animal than battling 3Com or Nortel."

The new ProCurve 8200zl is available now and starts at $23,999. The new wireless module, also available now, starts at $5,499.


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