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HP launches high-end net barrage

Oct 15, 20035 mins

* Desktop Gigabit, 10 Gigabit and 802.11g WLAN gear on tap from HP

HP last week launched a barrage of high-speed wired and wireless network gear for corporate customers, aimed at delivering Gigabit and secure Wi-Fi links to desktops and 10 Gigabit links in the core.

On tap from HP are new stackable and modular ProCurve LAN switch products that could help companies transition from 10/100M to 10/100/1000M bit/sec desktop connections. For fast backbone links, HP also is releasing its second 10G Ethernet product – a dual-port blade with swappable optics for the 9300m series switch. Also, a new ProCurve 420 Wi-Fi access point supports both 11M and 54M bit/sec wireless speeds, among other features.

HP’s new stackable line is the ProCurve Switch 2800 series. The ProCurve Switch 2824 and 2848 include 24 and 48 ports of 10/100/1000M bit/sec Ethernet, respectively. Both switches also include four fiber- and copper-based Gigabit Ethernet ports, supporting up to four uplinks of all copper, fiber or mix of the two. Each port on the switch can auto-sense its connection speed, from 10M bit/sec Gigabit Ethernet. The switch also supports basic IP routing, which lets the box route traffic among virtual LAN or subnet ports on the same switch without sending traffic to a backbone Layer 3 device for routing, HP says.

Other new Gigabit Ethernet products include a 20-port 10/100/1000M bit/sec module for HP’s ProCurve 4100gl series of aggregation switches and a 16-port triple-speed blade for the 5300xl modular switch. Both blades support full IP routing (Layer 3 switching and standard routing protocols) and quality of service with Layer 3/Layer 4-based packet classification and prioritization.

The new 10 Gigabit products for HP’s ProCurve 9300m series chassis switch take a different approach than the introductory 10G product the vendor introduced a year ago. Instead of a single-port, fixed-optic module, the new blade includes two XENPAK-compatible ports, which lets the blade be deployed with different 10G Ethernet optic inserts, such as ports with a ranges of 6 to 24 miles over single-mode fiber. HP says it also will have a multi-mode fiber XENPAK optical port next year for short-range 10 Gigabit links (up to 300 feet). The new two-port 10G blade also will be priced at around half the cost of its previous single-port 10G offering, HP says.

On the Wi-Fi front, HP bills its ProCurve 420 as a “heavy” access point, with security and management features built in. The device is 802.11g-compliant, which lets it communicate with 802.11a (54M bit/sec) or 802.11b (11M bit/sec) Wi-Fi devices. The box also supports the 802.1X end-user authentication protocol, which can lock out untrusted Wi-Fi users at the access point. The device can be powered over an Ethernet cable with support for the 802.3af power-over-Ethernet (POE) standard.

HP announced POE switches in June, but is not shipping them until year-end.

The new access point takes a different approach to Wi-Fi security from HP’s previously announced wireless LAN (WLAN) switch strategy – the ProCurve 720 Access Controller and 740 Access Control server, announced in June. Those boxes are designed to centrally control security and management for “light” Wi-Fi access points – inexpensive devices that function as basic 802.11 radios, with network intelligence coming from the WLAN switch.

HP 10G Ethernet products are running in the LAN core at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Conn. Two HP ProCurve 9300m chassis are linked with single-port 10 Gigabit blades in the core, with wiring closet switches at the edge connecting directly to the core boxes.

This two-tier approach is easier to manage than deploying switches in the core, distribution and edge, says Jason Blosser, director of IT for the college.

“This also means all servers connect directly to the core,” Blosser adds. “We chose 10 Gigabit because we didn’t’ want to worry about the core in terms of bandwidth.”

The new 10G products from HP could have a place in the school’s network in future server consolidation projects. “It would be nice to collapse all of our servers into one large box, then link that to the core with [10 Gigabit],” he says.

Steps such as the boosting of its wired and wireless enterprise gear, and the recent stepping down of HP CEO Carly Fiorina from the board of Cisco, could be signs that HP is preparing to seriously challenge Cisco for networking business in high-end data centers and large corporate LANs.

While HP’s high-end server group still lists Cisco as its best-practices partner for networking, that doesn’t mean HP won’t challenge Cisco with its Gigabit and 10 Gigabit gear, says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with The Yankee Group. “They may not be a challenge to Cisco right away, but they could become a strong No. 2 in the data center,” he says.

The ProCurve Switch 2824 and 2848 are priced at $2,500 and $4,900, respectively. The two-port 10G Ethernet is priced at $35,700, with single-mode-fiber Xenpak optical inserts costing $13,000 each. The 16-port 10/100/1000 blade for the 4300gl will cost $2,200. The 420 Wi-Fi access point costs $470. All of the new HP products will ship this quarter.