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HP On Right Track With Two Network OSes

When HP completed the 3Com acquisition, it seemed obvious that the ProCurve product line was due for termination. In the last two years, HP has steadfastly continued with ProCurve and its custom ASIC development, and maintains that both the A-Series and the ProCurve occupy different spaces in the market. Maintaining two different product lines makes sense for HP and its customers.

When HP completed the 3Com acquisition, it seemed obvious that the ProCurve product line was due for termination. In the last two years, HP has steadfastly continued with ProCurve and its custom ASIC development, and maintains that both the A-Series and the ProCurve occupy different spaces in the market. Maintaining two different product lines makes sense for HP and its customers.

This approach is not the expected behavior. Traditionally, after an acquisition like 3Com we would expect that all product lines would be merged or discontinued to follow a single production process or a single operating system. By maintaining both Comware and ProCurve, HP is committed to developing and maintain two network operating systems. At Interop in Las Vegas this year, I questioned HP Executive VP and General Manager, Enterprise Servers, Dave Donatelli about this practice. I received a firm look and terse comment that HP Networking is committed to both platforms, but no further questions were permitted.

The A-Series switches rely primarily on merchant silicon, and the core product value is in the Comware software that runs on the platform. The platform has a wide range of features and is mostly comparable with competitor products. The A10500 is a recently released mid-range FlexCampus switch using Broadcom silicon (the same silicon as used in the Cisco Nexus 3000).

The E-Series switches are the old ProCurve line. The core silicon and software for these products is developed by the HP ProCurve division in the United States. Prior to the purchase of 3Com, the ProCurve was developing a business that was competitive with Cisco C29xx and C37xx switches that are used in large volumes for connecting user desktops. Many large companies continued to use Cisco C4500 and C6500 devices for core campus switching and ProCurve stackable switches in the access layer to connect user desktops. The S-Series is a value product line for very low-cost requirements that also uses merchant silicon.

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