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Huawei Gunning For Networking Market Leaders Cisco, HP And Friends

Huawei is using Interop, the networking industry conference under way this week in Las Vegas, to strengthen its position in the U.S. enterprise networking market. The Chinese networking giant is introducing CloudEngine 12800, a next-generation data center switch, and is announcing a distributorship agreement with Synnex to sell its portfolio of IP network infrastructure, unified communications, collaboration and data center products to enterprise customers in the United States. Topping it off, Huawei also intends to vie for a piece of the smartphone market in the United States.

Last year Huawei unveiled Huawei Enterprise Business Group, a U.S. subsidiary. In 2010, the company announced a distribution agreement with Synnex to sell network firewall, security routers, intrusion detection technology, and NAS and SAN storage hardware in a partnership called Huawei Symantec.

With global 2011 revenue of $32.4 billion, Huawei is within striking distance of industry leader Cisco Systems, at $44.8 billion. By other measures, it dwarfs Cisco: Huawei's corporate engineering staff is about 60,000 employees strong, close to Cisco's total employment of about 71,000.

While Huawei has long been selling into the service provider market, including wireless carriers, the new U.S. business is called the Enterprise Business Group because it's making a particular focus on serving the enterprise market. Many of these enterprises are building networks similar to those operated by carriers, says John Roese, senior VP and general manager of Huawei R&D.

"Many enterprises are adopting ... next-generation data centers, cloud architectures, the use of mobile networks and broadband mobile networks. Those are all intrinsically carrier technologies moving into the enterprise," he says.

The CloudEngine 12800 is the latest release in the CloudEngine 12000 series. It will deliver switching capacity of up to 48 Tbits per second (T bps), which Huawei claims is three times the industry average for such switches, and bandwidth of 2 Tbps, which it claims is twice the industry average. The 12800 switch, as well as the 5800 and 6800 top-of-rack (ToR) switches, support the full range of Ethernet connectivity speeds: 100 Gbit Ethernet, 40 GbE, 10 GbE and 1 GbE.

Although Huawei was represented at the Interop conference in New York City last fall, the Las Vegas Interop is a bigger event, says Roese, and Huawei intends to make a bigger splash. The company believes there's still unmet demand to be served there.

"The beauty of the enterprise space is that there is a lot of room for competition," says Bill Plummer, VP of external communications at Huawei Enterprise, particularly for the sales channels, system integrators and other value-added resellers that would sell its products. "As we're entering the [U.S.] market, it's not so much with the intent to displace anyone but rather with the intent to meet demand."

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