HP ProCurve takes on Cisco with partner programme

HP ProCurve

HP's ProCurve division, the number two vendor for network switches worldwide, has announced a partner programme in conjunction with new hardware, in a move that will see it pit itself directly against one-time ally Cisco.

HP had an impressive line up of partners on show at the European launch of the ProCurve One programme, with big names including Microsoft, Avaya and McAfee.

The programme involves delivering its partners applications on an HP appliance, all pre-tested and fully certified to run on HPs blade switches. The intention is to provide ready-to-go networking solutions, while offering companies a choice of applications from different vendors without having to be locked into a single stack.

Marius Hass, HP ProCurve's executive vice president, described this at the launch as an 'ecosystem of products based on standards'.

"Customers want choice. They want the ability to have the best and most cost effective solutions that enable interoperability and are plug and play, and yet reduce complexity," Hass said. "Companies will not reduce quality and with not deploy products that don't work well on their networks but they don't want to have proprietary architecture that will lock them in."

The applications will be delivered on the One alliance hardware module, an appliance that plugs directly into HP's blade chassis.

Ben van Kerkwyk, HP ProCurve's global alliance manager, told IT PRO that this ability was a unique selling point, as tying directly into the network fabric enhanced the performance of the applications on the network by giving them access to the chassis' 10Gb connections. It also helps to lower power costs, as it does away with the need for a separate appliance and shares the same power supply as the blade chassis.

HP also launched the 6600 series family of switches, which it said are its first designed specifically for the data centre. The key feature is the reversible front-to-back cooling option, which HP said will help companies lower their cooling costs.

HP also unveiled its Data Centre Connection Manager - software designed to automate the provision of networking resources on the data centre. Van Kerkwyk said that the tool will give network managers better visibility of their networks and save them time by reducing the amount of manual tasks required.

Martyn Lambert, vice president of marketing for unified communications specialist Avaya, told IT PRO that partnering with HP was a big strategic initiative. "It's a marriage of equal partners. This for us is huge to enable us to compete with Cisco."

Commenting generally on the initiative, he said that "this enables CIOs to take a build-your-own approach - it's very powerful. It's the old UNIX open system vs. mainframe approach".


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