HP throws Cisco ProCurve ball

HP is banking on its server experience to push "integrated" ProCurve networking line over Cisco's "unified computing" tag, says executive.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard is banking on its server experience to push its ProCurve networking line past competitors, according to a company executive.

HP last week announced it would release a new set of ProCurve switches built to integrate with the vendor's BladeSystem servers.

We've been competing for years with IBM and Dell Computer in the data center business... I don't think Cisco has even started [being a threat].
Neal Clapper, HP

At a media briefing here Friday, Neal Clapper, vice president and general manager of enterprise storage and servers for HP Asia-Pacific and Japan's technology solutions group, said the new line of switches is expected to help centralize data center management by consolidating management tasks to a "single pane of glass".

The integrated "blade switches" will also use the same power and cooling resources as the blade servers, which will help reduce power consumption by up to 40 percent, she said.

Earlier this year, HP's largest networking competition, Cisco Systems--which leads the global networking equipment market, followed by ProCurve in second--also made a similar move, from the other side of the camp. The networking giant announced it was entering the blade server market.

HP basks on Marina Bay Sands

HP also announced its win with Singapore's Marina Bay Sands. The planned integrated resort will use a variety of HP's technologies, including its blades, networking and software products.

The network is slated to go online by year end, but the initial phase of the Sands will open to the public early next year, according to reports.

HP noted that the hotel's U.S. parent, the Las Vegas Sands, is also an HP customer for its properties in America.

On comparisons between HP's move and Cisco's "unified computing" drive, Clapper said: "[HP] has been in the server business a lot longer than Cisco.

"We've been competing for years with IBM and Dell Computer in the data center business... I don't think Cisco has even started [being a threat]," she said.

The executive noted that HP's broad portfolio allows it to offer the entire data center stack, from servers to networking, including virtualization and security. Cisco, she said, can provide the networking and server portion, but relies on partner agreements to provide the rest.

Touting HP's "standards-based" architecture, Clapper said Cisco's unified computing comprises "a lot of proprietary technology", noting that this makes integration with other vendors' products difficult.

"[HP's latest ProCurve integration] will be an interesting wakeup call for Cisco," she said.

Additionally, HP hopes the integrated ProCurve switches will appeal to Asian SMBs (small and midsize businesses) with its claims to simplify data center management.

Since SMBs tend to have lean IT departments, the consolidation of data center assets is expected to help smaller administration teams manage the company's infrastructure more efficiently and in some cases, trim staff resources, she said.