Even as we edge closer to the big split (November), and concerns continue to circulate about the wisdom behind that upcoming bifurcation, it’s business as usual for HP, with a set of new Cisco killers for the campus networking market. The 5400R zl2 Switch Series v3 Modules, which will ship on Friday, and the HP Network Visualizer SDN App, due out in June, ‘lay the foundation for simplified enterprise networks engineered for performance, security, visibility, and optimization of the digital enterprise.’
“This is by far the best switch in its class in the market,” said Michael Dickman, Global Product Line Management for Campus, Branch and Small Business, HP Networking. He told IT Trends & Analysis that is almost half the TCO of the competition (Cisco), and on a switch basis, is clearly the best in the market. However the new enhancements go beyond that, with higher throughput, connect over existing cabling, and handle more clients with more bandwidth.
According to HP, the new modules provide: more than 4.8 times better performance; 3.6 times lower latency; with the ability to process up to 24 more times the packets than Cisco’s Catalyst 4507RE. The switches, priced from $3,299 to $6,799, provide a 46% lower total cost of ownership than Cisco.
It’s also scalable and features new models around Software Defined Networks, said Dickman. “We’re really thinking about this as a campus system… optimized around mobility… rather than a switch… [that is also] future proof”.
Other than saying demand has exceeded expectations, he wouldn’t say how well the switch has done since initially launched last June as the ‘Cisco Catalyst 4500E Killer.’ HP said the original 5400 zl Switch Series, introduced in 2006, has over 10,000 customers and more than 20 million ports shipped. Targeted at midsize and large enterprises, Dickman said the greatest traction has come from the midmarket.
According to Infonetics Research, ‘heavyweight Cisco continued its recovery, growing Ethernet switch sales 1% sequentially in 4Q14 and clinging to small year-over-year growth’ in this segment. Overall, the market was up 5% from 2013, to $21.7 billion for 2014.
Even more interesting – at least from a future’s perspective – is a new Infonetics study that shows that 72% of North American businesses plan to have SDN live in the LAN by 2017. “Expectations for software-defined networking in the campus LAN are clear,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., Infonetics’ research director for data center, cloud and SDN. “Businesses taking part in our study want SDN to provide operational cost savings by integrating with existing networks, delivering better security, simplifying management and improving application performance. And they want all this without network interruptions.”
HP’s aspirations to bury Cisco won’t come to fruition any time soon, according to Technology Business Research, which just predicted that Cisco will continue to dominate the growing enterprise networking market, which will swell to $99 billion by 2018. However, while Cisco occupies the No. 1 position across the board, TBR noted that HP is the only other vendor to crack the top 10 in all 5 market segments
The two competitors also seem to be heading in different directions, according to their most recent quarters, with HP posting an 11% drop in networking sales, while Cisco reporting an 11% sales increase. As of the fourth quarter of 2014, Cisco owned the Layer 2/ Layer 3 Ethernet switching market, with a 61% share, or more than 6x HP’s 9.5 share.
Dickman called the Network Visualizer SDN App an instant network troubleshooter that also enables IT to provide a high-quality application experience for end users. As one element of the future-proofing, he also noted that HP was SDN – starting back in 2007 – “before SDN was cool.”
Looking ahead, Dickman said Aruba Networks should figure prominently in HP’s mobile plans. Announced less than 2 months ago that it would shell out $2.7 billion to acquire the wireless networking equipment, expectations are that this move will enable HP to compete more with Cisco than any other (Wi-Fi) networking supplier today,” said IDC analyst Crawford Del Prete.