HP opens latest assault on Cisco, pitches new architecture, switches

Summary:Hewlett-Packard launched another networking missile at Cisco Systems in a bid to keep its current momentum. HP outlined network architecture dubbed FlexNetwork and plans for a bevy of switches.

Hewlett-Packard on Monday launched another networking missile at Cisco Systems in a bid to keep its current momentum. HP outlined network architecture dubbed FlexNetwork and plans for a bevy of switches.

The FlexNetwork Architecture is designed to unify network set-ups on branch, campus and data center networks. HP's goal is to nudge its way into networks so it can eat away at more of Cisco's market share.

HP's argument is that current network architectures are disjointed and silo-ed. As a result, valuable IT dollars are wasted. As a carrot, HP is promising that its FlexNetwork will adhere to open protocols to better glue together enterprise networks where ever they reside.

With the move, HP is looking to keep the pressure on Cisco, which has missed quarters, lost focus and is reshuffling its sales and engineering decks. However, Cisco have moved swiftly to double down on the enterprise and recently killed off consumer efforts like the flip.

In a statement, HP is taking aim at "proprietary single vendor approaches that bog down networks with different technologies at every point in the infrastructure." HP also added that it will better unify wireless and wired networks.

Now you could argue that HP is just another vendor pitching its own network architecture. However, Kash Shaikh, director of product marketing at HP Networking, said "the approach here is to take a standard open approach." If HP can convince networking buyers to adopt its FlexNetwork as a blue print it is likely to sell more gear. Naturally, HP's network plans plug into its converged architecture for enterprise IT.

Shaikh said HP is looking to become a player at network boundaries and in places where proprietary protocols aren't dominant. This approach gives HP a shot to enter into Cisco and Juniper dominated data centers. After all, aren't many network rip and replace jobs today.

The FlexNetwork breaks down like this:

This installment of HP's networking push revolves around its A series 10500 campus core switch, a single pane to manage networks and a cloud-friendly intrusion prevention system.

HP's switches, which are aimed at Cisco's core business, are being pitched for price and performance. The gear, starting at $38,000, promises performance improvements over Cisco, less latency and speedier 10GB Ethernet ports.

These switches will be available in the second half of 2011.

HP remains a distant No. 2 to Cisco, but it can grow for years just by taking share from its larger rival. Here's a look at the 2010 switch standings via In-Stat.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Networking

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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