Battle of the Network Superstars

Michael Vizard

It's almost a certainty that many IT organizations will be upgrading their enterprise networks in 2011. In fact, Hewlett-Packard thinks that about $9 billion will be spent on upgrading enterprise networks that are based on Cisco equipment.

Those upgrades will be driven by everything from a new wave of mobile computing in the enterprise to the need to support more complex virtualization scenarios and new unified communications applications.

It's also no secret that HP intends to upend Cisco in the enterprise networking space, partially in retaliation for Cisco's temerity to enter a server category that HP currently dominates.

As part of that effort, HP is offering a trade-in program for Cisco networking gear that provides a 20 percent discount on HP A series and E series switches. According to Frank Rauch, HP enterprise storage server networking vice president for channel sales, the HP switches, which are based on technology that HP gained via its 3Com acquisition, have a smaller footprint and consume less power than rival Cisco offerings.

It will be interesting to watch how much success either company really has in usurping the other in 2011. Much of the assumption in both camps is relying on the idea that customers want to bundle their server and networking equipment purchases. While there is definitely a move towards convergence, it's not abundantly clear that IT organizations want to line up behind a single vendor for both their server and networking gear.

But even if customers don't line up behind the same vendor for their server and networking gear, it's apparent that IT organizations are going to benefit greatly from the ongoing war between Cisco and HP.

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