HP switches on security features

Hewlett-Packard Co. recently responded to changes in security standards in its 4108GL and 2500 Procurve series of switches by adding more security features, but at least one customer took more notice of the switches’ new lower costs.

In the 2500 series, specifically the 2512 and 2524 switches, the upgrades include Secure Shell (SSH) security, a de facto standard for remote access connections over IP networks, and the company is offering encryption for transmitted documents. Also included is port access for the 802.1x standard, radius security and quality of service (QoS) priority. The 4108GL line now also offers the same software sets and functionality as the former, and offers port security with move, add and change (MAC) lockdown protection. The switches are in compliance with the IEEE standard for network access security.

And with security continuing to be a hot topic in IT, the company agreed that this was where its focus was in announcing the upgrades to its products.

“The 802.1x allows for some port-based access control for administrators (and) an administrator can now specify a MAC address associated with one port,” said Darren Hamilton, category and business manager for networking and storage at HP Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is currently implementing 163 of HP’s 2524 switch in two of its new buildings – one a research facility for the electrical and computer engineering, and the second a teaching and learning facility and co-op engineering office. Kees Denhartigh, a systems and network analyst at the University, estimated there are approximately 4,200 ports between the two facilities. The school began the implementation process about eight months ago and expects to be completed by July. Denhartigh said that it is handling the installations internally, but has contacted HP for some help desk advice.

It decided to purchase the 2524 switch over a rival based primarily on cost savings, but was not aware of the security improvements to the 802.1x. Aside from security, the switch was chosen because it operates in a standard space with no proprietary protocols aside from the stacking modules.

“We’re ultilizing a lot of VLANs (virtual LANs)…throughout the building. It’s a logical implementation of VLANs behind firewalls or for different users groups. It’s allowing us to do things logically from the switch,” Denhartigh said.

The revamped switches now also feature lower pricing: the HP 2524 Procurve switch is now available for $1,725, while the 4000m costs $3,198. For more information, visit the company’s Canadian Web site at http://www.hp.ca.