LAS VEGAS — For months industry analysts have complained that Hewlett-Packard Co. has been the only leading networking equipment manufacturer without a clear statement on how to create next-generation converged networks.
On Monday, the company took a big step forward to resolving that by revealing its FlexNetwork architecture that not only helps companies to create converged network linking virtualized servers and storage in their data centres but also extends it across the enterprise.
“What HP’s done very uniquely with this architecture is have a common approach that we build products to from the data centre to the branch,” Dave Donatelli, executive vice-president of HP’s enterprise service, storage and networking division told reporters here on the eve of the annual Interop conference. “It’s a more modern architecture than what’s out there and because of that it allows us to innovate faster” than competitors.
This enterprise-wide fabric approach differs from several competitors who have focused their fabric vision so far only in the data centre.
HP says FlexNetwork converges the network by ensuring protocols are implemented consistently across all networked devices throughout an enterprise. As a result, customers are able to simplify and speed service delivery across the data centre, campus and branch.
— FlexCampus, said to improve performance, lower latency and increase security for identity-based access of multimedia content across converged wired and wireless networks.
To deliver the campus fabric, HP will release hardware tailored for two-tier network architectures later this year: The A10500 series of three core campus switches, two of which have 128 wire-speed 10GbE ports.
For large campuses, a super core with 208 wire-speed 10GbE ports can be created with two A10500 switches using the HP’s Intelligent Resilient Framework, which lets multiple switches to be virtualized and operate as a single switch. The A10500 can support 100GbE with new line cards.
— FlexBranch, which extends and simplifies network and security at the branch. No new hardware for this level was announced today, but HP says existing gear in its lineup will allow customers to deliver the architecture;
They are all overseen by the Intelligent Managment Centre 5 (IMC 5.0), the latest version of HP’s single-pane management application. HP says not only does it manage all of its hardware, it can also manage well as more than 2,600 network devices from over 35 vendors.
Finally, for improved data centre security HP also showed off the TippingPoint S6100N IPS appliance, an upgrade of its s5100N unit, which protects virtual machines as they are created or moved across an enterprise. HP says the new version is up to 60 per cent faster than the previous model. It has a list price of US$210,000.
In an interview, Marius Haas, senior vice-president of HP’s networking division said the campus switches and line cards are “leap and bounds ahead of the competition” in terms of performance throughput, energy consumption and manageability.
With FlexNetwork– as much a guideline for HP in designing its network equipment as it is a guideline to managers for building converged networks — Haas said “the customer now has ultimate flexibility, because they have an open standards-based, modular-based, integrated architecture model at the data centre, the campus and the branch all managed with a single pane of glass.”
Haas dismissed Juniper’s architecture as a “high-end, scale-out solution” that needs a fork-lift upgrade for customers, while Cisco has different solutions for the data centre and the edge of the network.
“In the data centre we feel we’re extremely complete.”