Skip Links

HP fires back at Cisco's Sup 2T

Claims comparison numbers are misleading, Catalyst 6500 upgrade lacks innovation

By Jim Duffy on Thu, 07/14/11 - 12:36am.

Cisco's announcement of the Supervisor 2T for the Catalyst 6500 switch, and its positioning vis a vis HP's A9508, caught the attention of HP. Cisco claims the Sup 2T is priced at one-third that of HP's A9508 switch yet is 3X the performance.

Well, HP did not take that one lying down. The following is a statement from Mike Nielsen, director of solution marketing for HP Networking, responding to Cisco's claims and to the introduction of the Sup 2T:

HP views Cisco's announcement today as too little too late on the heels of HP's FlexNetwork architecture and the A10500 series announcements back in May. The Catalyst 6500 is more than a decade old Cisco platform and workhorse of their product line, but it has seen nothing more than incremental updates - many of which still require a full system replacement - instead of driving real innovation with a fully refreshed architecture. Contrary to Cisco's claims, the performance of HP's comparable products is twice as high, if measured correctly. The price comparisons are also meaningless - Cisco's math is based on an upgrade of a product with a very limited install base versus a completely new installation. See details below.

In contrast to the FlexNetwork architecture from HP, the only converged network architecture across the data center, campus and branch, Cisco continues to have 2 separate networking architectures (DCBA and Borderless) and is confusing customers about which product to buy for which part of the network. This is further illustrated in their announcement today, where they position the Catalyst 6500 in the campus, data center, and metro.  Customers have told us that they get conflicting messages from Cisco on Nexus and Catalyst positioning.

The market is losing confidence in Cisco's ability to execute. Market share losses by Cisco reflect customers' reaction to paying a premium for legacy architectures on outdated platforms. Dell'Oro's Q1 '11 report shows HP now holds 12% of worldwide Ethernet switching revenue market, up 2.5 percentage points year over year. At the same time, HP gained 3.7 points of port market share in modular switching.  Cisco's revenue share fell 5.8 points in the same period.                                                       

And how many management tools should you need to manage 1 switch? HP offers one, integrated management tool - Intelligent Management Center (HP IMC). Cisco's announcement states: Sup 2T "ships with immediate support in network management tools 'like' Cisco Prime and Data Center Manager," among a long list of others. Cisco has more than 70 management tools listed on their website.  HP's strategy is to offer comprehensive network management in a single pane-of-glass, integrating all essential and high-value network management and monitoring functions into a single administrative tool.  With IMC v5, HP extended this functionality into the virtual domain, converging network orchestration to include the public and private clouds.                                                                                                                            

Cisco is claiming 1/3 the price of HP and 3x of the performance. Cisco's comparison is only for an upgrade to a deployed 6500E platform.  Their performance comparison is done with the 6513E, which only began shipping late last year and therefore has limited market penetration.  Lastly, it is our understanding that to use VSS on the 6500 series, a line card upgrade is required. 

Cisco is also comparing a supervisor engine upgrade of a 6500E platform to a new purchase of a complete and populated HP 9500 switch, which ignores HP's recent announcement of the A10500 Campus Core line of switches.  HP's A10500 easily outperforms the both the 6513E and 6509E with either the Sup 720 and the Sup 2T by every measure.

As a result, we believe that Cisco's "no forklift upgrades" statement is misleading to the market and their customers.  In reality, platforms from Cisco are priced in some cases 50% higher per terabit than higher-performing offerings from HP (at list price).

The battle rages on. Who's firing the next shot?

More from Cisco Subnet:

HP "beat the crap" out of Cisco, others

Cisco, sources reveal data center next steps

Cisco's 'Jawbreaker' seen as response to competitive pressure

Cisco grapples with transition as switches and routers lag

Cisco caught off guard by switching hit

Cisco switching transition "poorly managed and timed"

Should Cisco Sell?

FCoE: From fee to free

Cisco's alright with free FCoE

Follow all Cisco Subnet bloggers on Twitter.
Follow Jim Duffy on Twitter