Back in April, HP launched their direct attack on Cisco in the datacenter by making their stated goal to be a Cisco-free world for HP (and by implication, HP's customers). Yesterday they announced that the HP datacenters have successfully made the transition to an all-HP routing and switching infrastructure, removing Cisco components from those roles within their datacenters. All six of HPs core datacenters made the transition over the last six months, without taking any of the datacenters offline for the changeover.
It will be interesting to see how transparent HP will be regarding operational issues in these datacenters now that the infrastructure is running solely on HP product. Far more than just a technology demonstration, these datacenters are running HPs worldwide operations including their Internet service offerings, transaction processing, and of course, the hp.com websites.
While neither HP nor their now integrated 3com acquisitions are new to the datacenter networking market, they have not before been in such an adversarial relationship with Cisco. The "us or them" marketing mentality is much different from the "can't we all get along" approach usually encountered in computer technology marketing at the enterprise level. It's clear that HP considers this an important move in defining its own converged infrastructure offerings.
Now the interesting dichotomy here would appear to be HPs message; they want to free customers from proprietary protocols and technologies, as exemplified by Cisco, and are touting their use of open standards. But the general converged infrastructure message is one of the customers basically putting their eggs in the basket of a single vendor.
HP has a huge portfolio of offerings across the computing spectrum, and for a large percentage of their customers can likely offer a solution that exclusively uses HP technologies. Cisco, on the other hands, has a much narrower product range and fills out their offerings by partnering with the other vendors necessary to offer complete customer solutions.
This leaves us with the following scenario: HP, despite using "open" technologies, is much more likely to lock a customer into a single vendor solution, while Cisco, with their "proprietary" standards, is more likely to deliver a multivendor solution to customer problems.
Sometimes, it is a matter of defining what "is" is.