Modular switch has faster backplane, better PoE+ support

Seven years ago, Hewlett-Packard Co. brought out its first switch that supported the fledgling OpenFlow protocol for software-defined networking, the modular HP 5400.

Sales have been good enough that it has been upgraded with more performance and better management.

An HP 5400R modular switch
An HP 5400R modular switch

On Tuesday the company announced the 5400R, which like the previous model is targeted at the access layer for enterprises (campus or branch) and across the network for small and medium-sized companies.

“We introduced a modular chassis switch with the price of a stackable switch,” in 2007, Steve Brar, a global product manager at HP Networking, said in an interview, “and we’re keeping the pricing level the same with the 5400R.”

To help encourage network managers to upgrade, the new models also take any ZL2 modules they have already purchased.

Performance has been enhanced in several ways:

–The backplane capacity has been upped to 2 terabits per second;

–Like the previous version, the 5400R comes in six and 12-slots chassis. The larger can take up to 288 PoE+ ports. Unlike the older models, however, all of those ports can run at full power. That will help customers that want to plug in a lot of Wi-Fi access points or HDTV cameras, or who don’t want to manage a Power over Ethernet power budget;

–It can carry a second management card, for redundancy.

Options include the ability to support 1, 10 and 40 GB ports.

The models include a lifetime warranty, next business replacement day, and free phone support. Prices start at US$2,419 for the six-slot version and US$4,599 for the 12-slot. The price includes all software capabilities, such as advanced routing.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) compares the 5400R to Cisco Systems’ Catalyst 4500E platform and says a similarly-configured 5400R can give three times the throughput, and 58 per cent lower latency for voice and video apps in a smaller form factor that will be appreciated in smaller wiring closets.

“We’re positioning this as a platform that helps customers modernize their network away from legacy competitors’ platforms,” Brar said, “and be prepared for some of the major shifts coming in the campus such as increased bandwidth requirements for high definition video applications, the increase in mobile devices and the introduction of the 802.11ac standard, which will require a network that can handle the faster Wi-Fi traffic.”

For organizations who have moved to SDN, the platform supports OpenFlow 1.3.

For HP channel partners, the 5400R series’ continues to be highly customized,  supporting half-width modules so customers can buy in 24-port widths or less, differenet combinations of uplink and downlink ports and services modules.

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