Interop: HP announces new FlexNetwork products

Michael Nielsen, director of solutions marketing at HP Networking

Michael Nielsen, director of solutions marketing at HP Networking

HP is building on the FlexNetwork architecture it announced at Interop Las Vegas in May with new products, as well as a migration service to help customers begin the shift from IPv4 to IPv6.

With an eye towards transitioning networks from the traditional three-tier style to a two-tier style (removing the middle tier), HP announced its new products at Interop and made several direct comparisons to its biggest competitor’s products. According to HP, the FlexNetwork architecture, which is a standards-based open architecture approach, provides performance gains and cost reductions over competing products from Cisco. The battle between the two vendors’ network architecture strategies is heating up, and HP is boasting switching market share gains while Cisco is losing ground.

New products from HP run across the entire spectrum of FlexNetwork, from the campus to the branch to the data center (and even to mobile devices). The new products include:

  • HP 5900 top-of-rack switch. According to HP, the 5900’s 48 ports of 10GbE and four 40GbE uplink ports provide 300 per cent higher performance than the Cisco Nexus 3000 with 50 per cent lower TCO.
  • HP 12500 data center core switch. This updated switch was designed to be a very large logical core switch with very high density. The switch is active-active and has sub-50ms in resiliency, in part because it is the basis for a two-tier network infrastructure. According to HP, it offers 100 per cent greater bandwidth, 500 times faster reconvergence and 80 per cent better vMotion performance than a three-tier architecture.
  • HP 3800 stackable switches. Designed for campus environments, the 3800 provides 450 per cent higher performance than competing switches, according to HP. To go along with the new 3800, HP also released a campus environment reference architecture that unifies wired and wireless networks to support mobility and high-bandwidth multimedia applications.
  • Virtualized zl Service Modules. HP is releasing two branch service modules — one for VMware environments and one for Citrix environments. The modules enable customers (or their trusted advisors) to put virtualized applications in the switch. According to HP, this will simplify delivering services to the branch.
  • Intelligent Management Center 5.1. In the next version of IMC, which will be available in the first half of 2012, HP is taking its network access control features and pushing them out to mobile devices.

With these new products, HP now supports IPv6 across the entire FlexNetwork portfolio. To help with the transition, the company also announced new IPv6 migration services to make the move from IPv4 to IPv6 as painless as possible.

According to Bethany Mayer, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking, many companies are now in the process of migrating their infrastructures to IPv6. HP’s readiness assessment and migration services were designed to help that transition easier.

“We’re at a point where the network has got to change, period. We have to make switch over in the data center for the next architecture for the next 10 years,” said Mike Nielsen, director of solution marketing for HP Networking.

HP is placing its bets on its FlexNetwork approach, and according to the company, it’s been resonating well with customers and channel partners. Nielsen noted that HP is going to be relying heavily on the channel as it moves forward with FlexNetwork.

A key message HP is trying to convey to customers and partners is that FlexNetwork is designed for a much longer capitilization period. HP’s goal is to extend the network refresh cycle from two or three years to as much as 10, Nielsen said.

“We should be able to take those tools that we developed for ourself and for customers, and work with partners to accelerate adoption,” Nielsen said.