To start, I created a live blog of various sessions here. You can see the information that seemed to summarise the event as we went through the two days.
Overall I’m impressed with the vision and strategy that we were presented with. HP appears to have made a significant commitment to establishing the HP Networking and providing the kick start that it needs. It’s seems to have been integrated over the last year or so and is ready to come to market.
The people we spoke to are clear on their vision and I felt that their objectives are reasonable. And for a group of marketing people, they had a realistic view of the challenges and no nonsense method of communication. In short, they aren’t spinning us a line. Refreshing really.
Also clear is that they are targeting the Enterprise, from large to small. No intention of attempting to attach to Service Providers (possibly leaving that to Huawei).
Most of the products are developed and designed in China. On balance I’m comfortable with that as, very broadly, I prefer Chinese business habits of ‘ drive to ship products’ as compared to Indian habits of ‘bureaucracy at any price’ (perhaps noticeable as Cisco product development times get longer and longer).
HP Networking is split into the following product sets:
- Tipping IDS/IPS
- Unified Communications
- Network Management
The Switches is further broken into the A, E and V series. V-series is dumb switching ( think V for value ) and the ProCurve products have been kept and renamed as the E-series. The E-series also includes certain products from the H3C product set that fit the SMB and Retail and has some modular capability. The premium switching is the A-Series including some very large bits of tin focussed on the Enterprise.
We didn’t get any technical information on the products, so I can’t give a view on the actual products. Maybe I’ll get some time to analyse the papers in the future, but I can’t discuss the important features such as backplane design, module capacity and performance and the format of the ecosystem.
Commitment to Standard
We had some interesting dialogue around competitive positions with other products. The message from HP is clear, they will choose a completed and recognised standards. HP will not choose to develop proprietary extensions to
Intelligent Management Center
Once upon a time, 3Com had one of the best Network Management products ever and was far ahead of it’s time. It was both a great success for very large customers, and a failure for smaller customers because the software needed Solaris to run ( Ten years ago, Solaris was almost unmaintainable by most companies because of poor training and adoption).
HP Networking has made an acquisition to add a new management platofrm. In my view, it looks much improved from the Cisco Works platform, with a decent web interface (doesn’t look like something from 1999) and runs pretty fast over a low speed connection (demo was remote).
Something to look at more closely. You can work through the preso here.
S-Series / Tipping Point IPS
So IPS should be used by more people as part of their security strategy, but rarely is because it’s messy and kind of complicated. The message I got from Tipping Point people was:
- Wide range.
- A leadership in Security Research due to a program that buys vulnerabilities from researchers
- and a ‘stacking’ type approach to scale out IPS performance.
Screenshot showing the variety of products in their range:
And here is the presentation, it’s worth a quick overview.
There was also some discussion of Unified Communications, which didn’t interest me much (I think IP Telephony is being surpassed by mobile phones and cloud computing.
There was also some wireless gear which looked interesting, but I don’t have the presentations to refer to.
So what I didn’t get to cover.
The HP Network Day was an introduction to HP Networking. Given that I have had limited exposure to HP and, quite deliberately, no exposure to 3Com, it was chance to understand some of the corporate methodology. What we didn’t have time to get into, is the details of the product, how it works, what the designs look like. Then again, the product range is large: it’s a lot of switches, routers, software and security products to look at.
The EtherealMind View
And while it was good to meet senior executives within the company and understand how the current forward planning, I came away thinking “not enough technical stuff”. Maybe there will be opportunities for this later.
Key points that I feel are worth mentioning:
- They aren’t pitching into the top of the market, they are planning to start in the middle. Which is reasonable since the products need to be proven before people are going to believe anything different
- I’m guessing that they don’t want to alienate existing customers so they are continuing to produce the ProCurve gear. Even though there is significant overlap in the product lines. Given that most of the 3Com products use merchant silicon, and the ProCurve is custom fab this may be a bet on the best of both worlds.
- Talk from Senior Execs about pricing products well below Cisco pricing. This is practical recognition of the market, and no stupid talk about ‘market leadership’ or ‘premium company’ or ‘HP badged’ like I have heard before.
- Focus on Standards was a big topic. It seems that HP is well represented on the IEEE and believes that supporting standards will be a key selling point.
There is plenty of execution yet to happen on the HP Networking,, and the details can easily cause problems. Simple things like a bad batch of products or poor quality code can quickly build a bad reputation. On the other hand, HP has plenty of existing customers who will seriously consider buying.
And don’t underestimate the customers who don’t want to pay the very high prices for Cisco products. Cisco’s 65% gross margin is much higher on core switches and routers, with rumours of 80 to 90% gross profit margins on mid-range routers and switches. It won’t take much for these people to switch away. Once HP has some traction it’s likely they will be a major player in the networking market.
I’ll be looking into some of what I think HP needs to be successful in future posts, and will talk about some aspects on the Packet Pushers Podcast in the next few weeks.
Jeremy Gaddis from Evil Routers was also there has posted his thoughts here and are mostly similar to mine
HP Networking Tech Day is sponsoring the flights, travel and accommodation for this event. I am not required to write or podcast about the event and am free to share my own thoughts and perceptions. As if I’d do anything different. I am not paid for my time and do not receive any recompense for writing.