HP Routers Tighten Network Security

The company looks to go head to head with Cisco with its new line of ProCurve routers.

Hewlett Packard Co. is challenging Cisco Systems Inc. with the first of several planned routers it is adding to its ProCurve networking family.

The ProCurve Networking unit of the Palo Alto, Calif., company added a pair of branch/regional office routers that challenge comparable Cisco routers on price, maintenance and ease of configuration and management, according to 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; they offer wire-speed performance and "our warranty is lifetime on hardware and software. That is unprecedented in the router market space," Clark said.

Although HP ProCurve switch customers who signed up to test the new routers are taking a wait-and-see attitude, they are hopeful that the new routers 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," Jenkins said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifHP and Cisco are teaming to provide large customers with combined network maintenance and support services around the globe. Click here to read more.

ProCurve Networking also sought to make the new routers competitive by building in firewall and NAT (network address translation) security features. The routers also offer optional VPN features, including an easy-to-use VPN configuration manager, Clark said.

HP also included traffic prioritization for voice over IP, although it does not integrate all the functions necessary for VOIP, pointed out 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," he 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 with two slots for WAN interface modules. It can support up to four T1/E1 links. The 7203dl router has two slots for WAN interface modules and one wide slot that can accept an eight-port T1/EL module. It can support a total of 12 T1/E1 links. The routers are due in April, and the chassis for each are $1,499 and $2,999, respectively. Modules range from $399 up to $3,999 for the eight-port T1/El module.

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