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Where our customers win in today’s competitive networking arena

By Michael Nielsen, Director, Solution Marketing, HP Networking

7-13-2011 4-06-48 PM.jpgAs many of you know, HP announced HP’s FlexNetwork architecture at Interop in May. This was based on exhaustive research, partnership with our key customer advisors and feedback from leading industry analysts. 


What’s behind FlexNetwork

We believe that customers will be best served by segmenting their network, focusing on open standards for inter-segment and inter-layer communications.


This will empower you to choose best-in-class technologies for your network, assure consistent security across the entire infrastructure and achieve radical scale and agility to stay ahead of the most pressing business trends taxing your network.


We also believe this is best accomplished with a common underlying suite of technologies that can be managed consistently from data center to branch through a single pane-of-glass. 


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Switch leadership too

At the same time, we announced the new A10500 series line of switches designed to enable scaling to never before seen speeds for campus core networks – 2.56Tbps and 160Gbps per slot.


In my colleague Mary Gabra’s recent blog post, she discusses Dell’Oro’s Q111 report showing HP now holds 12% of worldwide Ethernet switching revenue market in Q1’2011, up 2.5 percentage points year over year. During the same period, HP gained 3.7 points of port market share in modular switching. Clearly, HP’s commitment to networking is taking hold.


In response to this week’s competitive announcements



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This week, Cisco announced a series of enhancements to its Catalyst 6500 switch family, specifically, scaling to 2Tbps with the new Sup 2T for the 6500 E-series. I found a few things in this announcement interesting, to say the least.  Let me try to take them on point-by-point and keep it fact based:


  • Cisco’s announcement states: Sup2T “ships with immediate support in network management tools like Cisco Prime™ and Data Center Manager,” among a long list of others. Cisco has more than 70 management tools listed on their website.  How many do you need? Our goal is to help customers simplify the management of the infrastructure, which is why we have the Intelligent Management Center (IMC).

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  • Cisco continues to have two separate networking architectures (DCBA and Borderless) and is confusing customers about which product to buy for which part of the network. This is further illustrated in the recent announcement, where the Catalyst 6500 is positioned in the campus, data center, and metro. Customers have told us that they get conflicting messages from Cisco on Nexus and Catalyst positioning.
  • Cisco is claiming 1/3rd the price of HP and 3x the performance. This comparison is done with only a Supervisor upgrade on the switch (“investment protection” – more on that in a minute) vs. an entirely new populated A9500-series chassis from HP. For their comparison, the focus is on the 6513E, which only began shipping late last year and therefore has limited market penetration. It is also our understanding that to use VSS on the 6500 series, a line card upgrade is required.  While the Catalyst has a large installed base, and on the surface any claims of “investment protection” have merit, I struggle to see how replacing everything in the chassis (except for the backplane and power supplies) – and then only for a platform that is a small percentage of its overall 6500 installed-base – protects a customer’s investment.
  • Cisco chose to compare the 6513E to the A9500, rather than the recently announced A10500 Campus Core line of switches. HP’s A10500 easily outperforms the both the 6513E and 6509E with both the Sup 720 and the Sup 2T.

  • The Catalyst 6500 is nearing the maximum capacity that the backplane can handle.  Contrast that to the A10500, which is designed for nearly a terabit per second - per slot.  We believe that the A10500 represents a new generation of high-performance campus core switches that will protect our customers’ investments for the next decade.


Reality check


The technology Cisco announced still lags behind the capabilities of HP’s class-leading technology. Specifically:


  • HP delivers 2x the performance with the HP 10500. Cisco 2T delivers 80 gigabits per second per slot, HP 10500 doubles that to 160 Gbps in its current capacity.


  • The HP 10508 switch announced in May is based on a 2.56 Tbps fabric, and all 8 slots are client facing. Cisco’s 6509E and 6513E chassis both lag behind considerably on per-slot capacity.
  • HP has consistently delivered best-in-class, open-standards implementations of IPv6, MPLS / VPLS, and numerous other technologies – all of which have been demonstrated to interoperate with standards-based implementations from other vendors, and all of which perform at line-rate. Additionally, HP was first to market, and continues to innovate, virtualized networks at the core, aggregation and access layers with Intelligent Resilient Framework.
  • Comparably configured, the HP A10500 outperforms the Catalyst 6509E with a Sup 2T by over 2:1. Even with its higher density Catalyst 6513E chassis, HP outperforms Cisco per slot 2:1 – 160Gbps per slot for HP vs. 80Gbps per slot for Cisco. And across the board, HP has class-leading offerings in network management, standards-based implementations of IPv6 and MPLS, virtualized networks and security.

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The bottom line is. . .

Cisco has never before seen competition like it is seeing from HP. This is proven by the fact that it presented a comparison slide vs. HP switching – a first!


You, our customers, are demanding a choice in your networking vendor and are migrating to a best-in-class, open-standards approach that allows you to choose the best platforms for all network segments and the layers within those segments. The Cisco announcement today shows they are feeling the pressure. HP’s growing foothold in the networking market is not only impacting Cisco directly, but also inspiring a new level of innovation across the networking industry. Networking customers finally have a real choice for the first time in decade.


HP brought competition to a stagnant and overpriced market. And it’s you who will benefit most.


>> CRN: HP Challenges Cisco Catalyst 6500 Upgrade Claims
>> Network World: HP fires back at Cisco's Sup 2T and
Partners And HP Make News At Cisco Live 2011

>> Intelligent Resilient Framework White Paper 

>> Before replacing existing Cisco switches & routers with more of the same Pause and consider this
Calling all triviaholics! Play the #HPFunFacts Twitter Trivia game this week (July 11-14). Details here ~ win $20 gift certificate to Amazon, iTunes or Starbucks.

>> Learn more about HP Networking products and solutions for the Instant-On Enterprise


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Tamas Csillag | ‎07-15-2011 11:15 AM

While I do love HP networking gear and open-standards, and I do believe that Cisco is overpriced, I also do think that the only company that actually provided investment protection for networking hardware is Cisco.


HP did and still does a really good job with the free software upgrade approach, and still releases software for ages old switches (the 2524, for example), and that's great.


HP does, however, put modular switches on EOL in less than 10 years. 10 years is an eternity in IT, but not so in networking, I think. For example, I can still buy modules for my Catalyst 4000 chassis, but I can't do that for my ProCurve 4000m. And as I know (although there's a high chance that I'm wrong on this one) HP never released an upgraded supervisor module for any of it's modular switches.


Another thing would be module incompatibility: mostly caused by the 3Com/H3C gear, but there's just too many different kinds of modules around, especially for routers. The 7000dl has 3 kinds of modules, the A series routers have other 3 kinds. The switches have vl, zl, yl and cl modules. Even if I stock modules for future expansion, I can't buy one of every kind.

Cisco managed to cut it down to 4000 and 6000 series linecards, and WIC and NM modules. Okay, it's a bit more complicated than that, but most hardware interoperates.


Bottom line for me is, I'll buy HP stackable switches anytime, but if I need modular, I'll go Cisco for now. If I still see support for the current HP big boxes in 2015, I'll think it over.





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