HP Targets the Core

Arthur Cole

HP's ProCurve unit made the jump from the edge to the core this week with a new high-performance core switch that takes dead aim at Cisco's bread and butter.


The ProCurve 8212zl is aimed at highly complex network configurations, offering 10 GbE connectivity that accommodates voice and video communications, as well as data. Built on the company's own ProVision ASIC, the Layer 2-4 switch sports a scalable chassis with redundant management, power and fabric capabilities. Top throughput is 692 Gbps over 288 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 48 10 GbE ports. Other features include behavioral analysis tools designed to shunt suspicious traffic to security devices.


The trade press was quick to draw comparisons between the 8212zl and the Cisco Catalyst core switches, primarily the 6500 and the 4500 systems. While HP is setting a price point that's up to 70 percent lower than the Catalyst 6500, the ProCurve lacks some functionality that high-end enterprises need, like MPLS (multi-protocol layer switching) support. Still with that much of a discount, HP is betting that the vast majority of enterprises are willing to forgo MPLS at the moment.


When the heavy hitters start trading blows, it's easy to forget that there's an undercard in the core switch market as well. QLogic recently received IBM System Storage SAN certification for its SANbox 9000 system, which provides 10 GbE connectivity from the core to the edge. At only 4U, it's a small chassis device that features "customer replaceable units" that can be easily swapped without a service call.


Still, it's good to see that a company as diverse as HP, which can be counted on to push the envelope as far as storage, servers and all the other more glamorous enterprise components are concerned, knows enough to realize that all the capacity and all the system performance in the world isn't worth a hill of beans if you can't get data from one place to another.

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