category business manager for ProCurve at HP Canada

HP ProCurve yesterday unveiled new additions to its wiring closet, aggregation and core switch lines, featuring support for power over Ethernet, a revamped programmable ASIC and more flexible media options. Even with all management functions enabled, the switches are able to perform at wire speed because everything is handled by the ASIC.Darren Hamilton>Text

The centrepieces of HP’s switch rollout are the chassis-based ProCurve 5400 and the stackable ProCurve 3500, both designed as 10/100/1,000Mbps wiring closet boxes. The 5400 is positioned as a competitor of Cisco’s Catalyst 4500 and 4900, while the 3500 goes up against Cisco’s Catalyst 3750 series.

The switches feature HP’s latest programmable ASIC, dubbed the ProVision. The ProVision ASIC performs a number of tasks previously performed in software, including HP’s Virus Throttling, which flags traffic flows typically associated with viruses and slows them down to a manageable level. The ASICs can also perform per-port policy enforcement and security checks.

Even with all management functions enabled, the switches are able to perform at wire speed because everything is handled by the ASIC, said Darren Hamilton, category business manager for ProCurve at HP Canada. He said no handoff is required to software or a module. “We become a better performer…when the switches are challenged with packet interrogation and security.”

The 5400 and 3500 also feature Power over Ethernet (PoE) on all ports. Many users are looking at VoIP deployments, wireless infrastructures or Web cams, Hamilton noted, so PoE is becoming a more attractive feature.

It’s also becoming more affordable, which is why HP decided to introduce it as standard on the 5400 and 3500.

Hamilton said customers with a mix of PoE and non-PoE devices, or who have no PoE now, but know they’re going to PoE in the future, can affordably overprovision now.

Alan Freedman, an analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, agreed PoE is growing, driven largely by VoIP. “The fact that HP is coming out with a universal port and that there’s minimal, if any, uplift in price…will help drive more adoption.”

He said HP’s share of the routing and switching market still can’t compare with Cisco’s, but it is growing. “They’re definitely on the radar screens of the big vendors. They’re significant, not necessarily because of the size of ProCurve, but because of the relationship they have with HP corporate and all of HP’s installed base.”

In addition to the 5400 and 3500, HP introduced the ProCurve 6200, a LAN switch aggregator, which supports 24 ports of Gigabit Ethernet over copper and several different types of fibre. The switch also includes a slot for an optional 4-port media-flexible 10-Gigabit module.

For basic connectivity HP launched the ProCurve 4200, which includes 72 ports of 10/100Mbps. The switch includes two slots which can be used to add 48 other 10/100Mbps ports, 32 Gigabit copper ports, or 12 100Mbps FX fibre links.

The ProCurve 5400 comes in 6- and 12-slot versions, starting at $2,879. The six-slot version will be available in April with the 12-slot version available in the summer.

The 3500 starts at $4,999 and is slated to ship in April. The 4200 starts at $1,879 and will be available this month. The 6200 starts at $9,379 and will ship in the summer.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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