HP, Nortel join forces on 10Gb Ethernet

Nortel Networks Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. will soon collaborate to develop high-speed interfaces linking HP servers with Nortel optical network gear targeted at content service providers experiencing bandwidth bottlenecks in Internet data centres, the companies announced recently.

The two companies will investigate joint commercial development of a 10Gbps Ethernet network interface card for HP’s Superdome and HP 9000 servers.

At the recent NetWorld+Interop 2000 in Atlanta, Nortel and HP demonstrated integration of computing platforms and dense wave division multiplexing optical network technology over 10-Gigabit Ethernet.

The 10Gb Ethernet product will be designed to eliminate the congestion caused by multiple router hops within traditional Internet data centres, Nortel said.

The Internet data centre infrastructure market is expected to reach US$18 billion by 2003 with about 740 Internet data centres expected to be built, according to Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp.

The Nortel/HP deal could simplify network engineering in addition to increasing speed as the result of the development of products to avoid multiple router hops, said William Hurley, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. It also allows Nortel to extend its leadership in optical networking further into the data centre -specifically down to the server level, he said.

But HP may have more to gain from this relationship because it can take advantage of Nortel’s market-leading position in optical networking, whereas HP rival Sun is considered the de facto standard vendor for Web content servers.

“The deal wasn’t made with Sun (Microsystems Inc.), but HP is a reliable vendor,” Hurley said. “But it’s still early to announce product ahead of the 10Gb Ethernet standard, a situation that may cause users to balk at buying initial products.”