HP throws down the gauntlet; will Cisco respond?

HP throws down the gauntlet; will Cisco respond?

Summary: HP is letting everyone know that they are pushing a Cisco-free world. Did you even know that you were under Cisco's thumb?


With the completion of its newest data center and the integration of their acquisition of 3Com, HP feels that they are ready to take on Cisco for the control of the data center networking infrastructure.  In what is clearly a well -calculated first blow against Cisco, Ken Gray, vice president, Infrastructure, Global Information Technology Organization, HP, said "We're Cisco-free in this data center and have a plan to extend this freedom across all of our internal IT data centers next year."

That's all well and good, and given that HP has just acquired a direct competitor to Cisco, not unexpected, but what does it really mean to customers?  On the plus side, HP will be running its own internal networks using its own hardware, which is always a good thing for customers when vendors are as dependent on their products as potential customers may be. But on the other hand I've yet to pick up the phone and hear a client complaining that they were being forced to use Cisco hardware.

Regardless, if HP plans on maintaining a very public and aggressive campaign against Cisco and their protocols you are going to begin to hear more public rumblings; the trick, for HP, is if they can get other vendors, or customers, to begin piling on.  But until that happens, Cisco is still comfortably ensconced at the top of the hill, looking down on all the competitors, and their uphill fight. Though I do sometimes get the impression that Cisco's recent buying spree indicates a loss of focus on their core networking market and therefore a potential opportunity for competitors.

But while this very public battle will be fought, a closer look at the trenches will show the datacenter customer that there are a number of upstarts, with very narrowly targeted products, that potentially do a much better job of solving pressing datacenter networking issues. Companies like Arista Networks are building switches with very high performance, good energy efficiency, and cost effective densities that are targeted at switching within the datacenter and optimized for dealing with cloud and virtualized business models. 

While these switches aren't designed to replace the top-of-the-line routing networks that Cisco dominates, they provide an effective foothold for these smaller, narrowly targeted vendors, in the datacenter.  I must admit, however,  that the cynic in me looks at these smaller companies and just wonders if their exit strategy is to get Cisco to throw some of that buy-out money in their direction. Can HP get vendors and customers to get on a Cisco-free diet?  It seems unlikely, but it will at least make a splash for HP as they market their 3Com acquisition.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Data Centers, Hardware, Networking, Storage

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  • I am HP free

    I have never owned one of their ink jet printers (and therefore never had to buy any of their VERY expensive ink) and I probably never will.
    • What does that have to do with networking?

      nothing.. thanks do not come again.
      • Intellectually challenged this morning? (nt)

        • Another empty nt awnser...

          That means nothing.

          So please gtfo and take your fail with you.

          Thank you.
          Tommy S.
    • Inkjet? Really?

      Anyone who would waste money on any inkjet is
      certainly not a frugal person... Laser printers
      color and black and white offer more pages at a
      lower cost.

      And let's face it, your post has no bearing on the
      • Yes it does

        A company makes a claim that their product provides freedom and I give and example where this is definitely NOT the case. My counterpoint questions the sincerity of their claim. HP is not about freedom, they will trap you if they can.

        Quite relevant IMHO, even if you don't get it. This is not a technical networking blog.
        • Not sure where you are coming from

          Do Canon, Epson, Xerox and others offer more flexible ink solutions? In any case, as the other posters have said, how is this relevent to this discussion?
          • Reading comprehension

            Did you read the sub-title? ("HP is letting everyone know that they are pushing a Cisco-free world. Did you even know that you were under Cisco's thumb?")

            Did you read the article?

            Did you read my post?

            If you still don't get it I cannot help you.
          • He is not the one needing help

            This article is not really about home use products. It's more about Data center products
            Turd Furgeson
          • I know, the big picture is difficult to grasp (nt)

        • I'd say HP [b]does[/b] provide freedom...

          IMHO, HP has the most Linux-friendly printers on the planet. Other companies either provide no support at all, or limited support and third parties are writing the drivers. Through the HPLIP software, I have full access to all my all-in-one printer capabilities.

          I got rid of a Canon printer as it was Windows only--Canon trapped me, HP set me free!
  • HP - pot calling the kettle black

    HP shouldn't forget their compaq legacy.

    They also shouldn't forget their own substandard crap. Just google people having to bake motherboards from the p3005 laser printer because of bad solder joints.

    No thanks, HP. No thanks.
    • So you're comparing

      a bottom of the line laser printer to high end switching equipment? Very interesting. HP business laptops are top notch, their servers are unbeatable and Procurve switching equipment has been quite good for years and years. I will say as a reseller we have switched off HP printers for the reasons you mention but that doesn't translate across business units. Their servers are second-to-none.
      • well...

        Their end user laptops are horrible, if anybody notes the dv2000, dv6000, & dv9000 (sorry if im missing a line) that had a big issue with video failing on the mobos or the mobos themselves failing, if it wasn that it was the audio jacks or the net card... that whole line was horrible... looked pretty but internals were crap. HP has rubbed me the wrong way for some time, their Warranty support is horrible at best. Granted i am dealing with all end user equipment as a local tech but the horror stories and personal experiences i've had with HP are sub par at best.
        • Separate BUs

          Inkjet printers and end user laptops have nothing to do with the enterprise servers, storage and networking area within HP. They are very separate business units and each has their own strengths and weaknesses.

          Perhaps we could have some responses based on ProCurve and 3Com networking equipment instead?
        • ...Who's Isn't?

          Sorry, but I feel that [i]everyone's[/i] consumer-level notebooks are horrible, and HPs are no exception. Dell's suck too, as do Acer's.

          Beyond that, there are really only two or three "Real" manufacturers of notebooks and they are resold to HP, Dell, Acer, and the like; the only real differences are esthetic and/or have some additional features.
          Paul Newell
      • "Their servers are second-to-none."

        Perhaps now...many people still prefer Sun over HP. OTOH, many businesses preferred HP over Sun as Sun was more expensive.
      • I concur

        I've been using HP laptops at work at three different organisations over the last four years and they've all been great.
    • Ever Used Their Switches?

      Because their switches are great. Solid, stable, and feature-packed for much less than you'd pay for a Cisco - [i]with[/i] lifetime warranties too!
      Plus you're not nickled & dimed to death anytime you want to make a firmware update or want to "unlock" an advanced feature in a switch. Cisco's been pissing off many a net-admin with that strategy over the last few years and have pushed many companies into the arms of HP, SonicWall, and the like.
      Paul Newell
      • Exactly

        Too many network people have only ever worked with Cisco gear and don't want to know about anything else. Not unlike the IBM blinkers that many people wore until the 90s.

        Some, however, have seen past that and realised that you can dramatically reduce your TCO by [b]not[/b] using Cisco.

        Interesting comment in the article: [i]"But on the other hand I?ve yet to pick up the phone and hear a client complaining that they were being forced to use Cisco hardware."[/i]

        Really? Perhaps that is because they were too embarrassed to admit they became locked in with all the proprietary protocols (eg PVST, EIGRP, VTP) and couldn't go to other vendors without significantly re-engineering their networks.

        Open standards and competition are important to everyone in the IT space because they help to keep prices lower and encourage innovation.

        Check out sFlow and HP ProCurve Virus Throttling as just two small examples of this.