HP launches a wave of enterprise gear

Hewlett-Packard’s ProCurve Networking division made a big enterprise push recently with a new Gigabit Ethernet switch line, higher density Gigabit modules for existing switches, an enterprise-class wireless LAN switch and network management software.

Up until now, HP hasn’t had a lot of visibility in the enterprise networking market, said Alan Freedman, an analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto.

“I think that’s something they’re working on now,” he said. “Seeing as how they’re growing the business it makes sense for them to get out there and present themselves as an alternative to Cisco.”

HP’s new switch line, the ProCurve Switch 2800, is a 1U stackable family designed to serve at the enterprise edge, said Darren Hamilton, category business manager for ProCurve at HP Canada.

The 2824 has 24 10/100/1,000Mbps ports, while the 2848 offers up to 48 ports. Both switches include four additional Gigabit Ethernet ports that can support a mix of fibre and copper connections. To move from a copper to a fibre link, customers need only install a gigabit interface converter (GBIC).

The 2800 series also supports basic IP routing, so traffic moving between different virtual LANs, for example, wouldn’t need to travel to a backbone Layer 3 switch.

Adding some intelligence to the edge switches is part of HP’s Adaptive Edge Architecture, Hamilton said. HP’s goal is to allow network managers to define policies and access information at the centre of the network, but enable edge devices like the 2800 to enforce the policies.

“The response is better if traffic is authenticated at the edge,” Hamilton said. “It’s also more secure.”

HP also rolled out new modules for its ProCurve 4100gl series and its 5300xl line. The 4100 module has 20 10/100/1,000Mbps ports, while the 5300 module contains 16 ports. Both modules have full Layer 3 routing capabilities.

HP enhanced its wireless enterprise offerings with the HP Wireless Enterprise Access Point 420, an 802.11g-compliant wireless LAN access point with security and management built into the box. The 420 will also work with 802.11a and 802.11b devices and has support for the 802.3af standard, allowing it to be powered over an Ethernet cable.

Finally the company unveiled network management software packages, HP ProCurve Manager and HP ProCurve Manager Plus.

ProCurve Manager is Windows-based, offers alerts, troubleshooting, topology and mapping, and device management.

ProCurve Manager Plus adds VLAN management, in-depth traffic analysis, device software updates and group and policy management.

IDC Canada’s Freedman noted HP may appeal to some enterprise users, because the company is able to offer turnkey systems.

“They’ve got servers, switches, storage and wireless, which could be seen as an advantage by some customers,” he said.

ProCurve Manager will be included with the purchase of any HP ProCurve switch, beginning Nov. 1. ProCurve Plus is available for US$1,999.

The Switch 2824 lists at US$2,499 and the Switch 2848 lists at US$4,899.

The 420 access points list at US$470.