HP core LAN switch boasts new architecture

HP this week is expected to unveil a core LAN switch backed by a lifetime warranty that allows enterprises to deploy an operationally consistent network from the edge to the core. HP’s ProCurve Switch 8212zl is the company’s first core offering based on HP’s ProVision ASICs. ProVision first emerged on the company’s ProCurve 5400zl and 3500yl series edge switches 18 months ago.

The 8212zl allows HP to now offer a core-to-edge network switching system that unifies network technology, infrastructure, software, operation, management and support, company officials say.

Use of common components also lowers cost of ownership and reduces complexity, HP claims.

The switch’s lifetime warranty means users can receive next-business-day replacement with phone and e-mail support. HP says it also offers lifetime software and firmware updates for its ProCurve product line to reduce the risk and unexpected cost of incremental feature enhancements and bug fixes.

One analyst says the lifetime warranty is HP’s differentiator in a tough market, though its relevance is customer-specific.

“They’re the only company I’ve seen offering a lifetime warranty on their equipment,” says Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise voice and data research at Infonetics Research. “But it depends on the company how long [the switch] will be deployed in the network. As technology keeps improving some may want to stay ahead of the curve; others are keeping equipment until it breaks. But people are always looking for value, so all things being equal it sweetens the deal.”

The ProCurve Switch 8212zl is a 692Gbps, 12-slot chassis core switch that provides Layer 2 through 4 switching, with security. It sports 288 Gigabit Ethernet ports with Power-over-Ethernet capabilities, and 48 10GbE ports. It also supports high-availability features such as customer hot-swappable, redundant management, fabric and power, HP says.

Though it will face competition from just about every core switch from every major manufacturer, the 8212zl is intended to go up squarely against Cisco’s Catalyst 6509 and 4507 switches. The 6509 has a switching capacity of 720Gbps, and supports 386 Gigabit Ethernet and 64 10GbE ports; the 108Gbps 4507 sports 240 Gigabit Ethernet and 2 10GbE interfaces.

HP may be emerging as a more formidable competitor to Cisco, which dominates the enterprise LAN switching arena. HP experienced year-over-year port growth for the second quarter more than double the industry growth rate, according to Dell’Oro Group.

HP grew worldwide port shipments by 46 per cent in the second calendar quarter compared to the industry growth rate of 21 percent. North American port growth for HP in the second quarter in the overall Layer 2 through 7 switching market was 57 per cent in a market that grew by 14 per cent.

The 8212zl may also hasten the conclusion of HP’s six-year-old OEM arrangement with Foundry Networks for core switches. HP has been offering the Foundry switches as the ProCurve 9300m line and will continue to do so, even though sales are “dropping off,” according to Dan Montesanto, HP ProCurve product marketing manager.

“It’s a point technology that serves niche functions,” Montesanto said of the 9300m line. “The need for that is dropping off. You’ll see more moves later this year” regarding the future of the product and HP’s arrangement with Foundry.

Montesanto added, however, that HP has made “no definitive plans” as yet to end-of-life the 9300m.

Machowinski also believes the 8212zl may encroach on sales of HP’s 8100fl switch line, which is based on technology obtained from Riverstone Networks three years ago. The 8100fl is targeted at larger networks with high scalability requirements.

HP is also expected to unveil this week a wireless edge service module for the 8212zl and 5400zl switches. The ProCurve Wireless Edge Services zl Module is designed to offer centralized wireless LAN configuration, management and services to the 8212zl and 5400zl switches.

The module unifies both wired and wireless operations across the network, and extends HP’s ProCurve ProActive Defense security architecture to WLANs. The module features Layer 3 roaming, secure guest portal with guest account administration, and integrated RADIUS and DHCP services, HP says. It also supports an integrated stateful packet inspection firewall and enhanced wireless intrusion detection.

The ProCurve Wireless Edge Services zl Module also includes HP ProCurve’s standard lifetime warranty.

The ProCurve 8212zl switch and Wireless Edge Services zl Module are both available now. Pricing for the switch starts at US$24,000. The wireless module costs $5,500. A redundant wireless services module costs $5,000, and software licenses cost $4,000 for 12 radio ports or $13,000 for 48 radio ports.

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