HP moves into routers

ProCurve Networking by HP is seeking to replicate its success in the LAN business with a move into the WAN sector.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  March 22, 2005

|~|Bill-Johnson_m.jpg|~|“Our strength is taking technology to the mainstream and making it as accessible as possible.” - Bill Johnson, ProCurve worldwide lab manager.|~|ProCurve Networking by HP has expanded its portfolio by adding the 7000dl wide area router series. The first two models are the 7102dl and 7203dl routers and are expected to hit the market in April. This represents ProCurve’s first products in the routing sphere, where Cisco is dominant with more than 80% of market share. The Secure Router 7000dl series is designed to connect enterprise branch offices at the WAN edge to a headquarter site and includes an optional virtual private network (VPN) capability. The routers also incorporate a variety of security features including a stateful firewall to prevent denial of service attacks, access control list (ACL) and an 802.1x supplicant. As this is its first move in the space, ProCurve spokespeople were careful not to sound too bullish about the release. Nevertheless, the products are the first stage in a three year plan to attack the router market. HP has been developing its routing technology for some time and the company hopes to replicate the success that has seen it rise from a negligible player in LAN networking to a position where it is often the closest challenger to Cisco. For example, ProCurve was rated second behind Cisco but ahead of 3Com, Nortel, and Extreme in terms of revenue in the 3Q04 EMEA LAN market, according to IDC. ProCurve has emphasised that it is responding to customer requests rather than stressing its long term plans in the sector. The vendor claims that the lack of a wide area component had led to it losing business on occasion to other companies with more end-to-end offerings. “Our customers have been asking for a WAN product,” says Bill Johnson, ProCurve worldwide lab manager. “We have been turned away by customers who had been attracted by our Ethernet products but said they needed site-to-site connectivity. They wanted one vendor and one neck to choke if there was a problem. Now we can offer that,” he adds. The routers mark a new direction for ProCurve but the underlying philosophy remains the same as its efforts in its LAN business. The company positions itself off the vanguard of innovation but above the commodotised production of devices, with its value add being chiefly the HP brand and breaks in terms of cost of ownership. “We take technology mainstream, with standards,” says Johnson. “Cisco’s strength is bringing new technology to market as early as possible. Our strength is taking technology to the mainstream and making it as accessible as possible,” he adds. It is possible, however, that ProCurve has left it too late to move into the router market, given the maturity of the sector and the fact that it is dominated by Cisco. HP is banking on innovation and longevity in the product group, though some commentators have speculated that increased switch functionality could make the router redundant. “It is important to understand the difference between a router and routing,” says Simon Wilson, enterprise data product marketing specialist at voice and data vendor Nortel Networks. “The advanced routing capabilities of switches have restricted the router to fewer tasks. Moving forward, we are going to see more and more convergence to a single device,” he adds. HP disputes that it has left it too late to join the router race, pointing to the dividends it expects from the research and development it has put into the sector. ProCurve claims that most networking vendors have cut R&D spend in the last few years while it has boosted its investment. “The router market is mature but it is still growing,” says Daniel Carnine, ProCurve 7000dl router worldwide product manager. “Some competitors haven’t made sufficient investment but we’ll evolve and develop products that best meet customer needs in the routing business over the next few years,” he adds. ||**||

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