Networks redefined

John McHugh, VP of ProCurve Networking by HP on evolution of networking and ProCurve's regional plans.

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By  Administrator Published  September 30, 2007

NME caught up with John McHugh, VP and worldwide GM of ProCurve Networking by HP during his recent visit to the Middle East - the second in a year - for the global launch of the company's first core switch, to talk about the evolution of networking and ProCurve's initiatives in the region.

Can you explain the Adaptive Network concept of ProCurve Networking?

The Middle East is unique in terms of growth and our expectations and committment of resources.

The Adaptive Network concept is ProCurve's vision of the ideal networking solution; a concept that will allow customers to install an infrastructure that will get them through the next five to ten years. What that vision did was it talked about the issues that customers were likely to face during that period. The way that businesses and organisations define and manage their information and information assets will decide the winners and losers for the next five years. The really interesting challenge is that as information becomes the primary asset that companies use to be successful and information becomes the lifeblood of processes it has to be in the right people's hands at the right time.

It is hugely risky if information reaches the wrong people - employees or competitors - whether IP, customer lists whatever. That is the big risk of having electronic information that is readily accessible.

Networks that we have to build, to enable this vision of the future, have to be able to fortify security while reducing complexity. Additionally, it should make information move without friction through the entire network and do that in a way that is at least as productive, if not more, than today's networks.

That's kind of the summary of our vision of adaptive networks and the future that we want for our customers.

How do you see the evolution of the increasing convergence in routing, switching and security and how do you see that changing enterprise network infrastructure?

In the next year and a half to two years, probably the most significant trend that customers would have to embrace one way or other has to do with security. And it has to specifically do with access control. Networks which were not secured in any way ten years ago started to embrace access management as more wireless networks were deployed. People started broadcasting these networks and began to realise there were big security issues. A lot of customers at this stage realised that it was not just a wireless issue but is really any way that somebody can connect to the network. More than understanding access methodologies it is about making sure that the right people are on the network and are doing things appropriate for the network.

Access management is the first block that you lay down when you build the building of having an infrastructure that can manage information as I described - providing access to people who should be in and prevent those who shouldn't have it. Who is on the network, do they have the right credentials, are they using the right devices and there is no abherrent behaviour - those are the biggest issues.

Convergence, more video and VoIP are long-term trends that are going to take decades to play out. The whole concept of unified communications is just emerging and starting to impact us. From a network infrastructure standpoint these are applications that sit on a well designed network. Customers should watch out for people who go to them and say that you need our network to support unified communications. In fact what they are probably trying to sell is a customised solution that is proprietary and is going to interface with the unified communication solutions. What customers should be looking for in solutions are open standards and open architectures.

How do you perceive the competitive landscape with more security vendors offering switching and routing capability?

We don't want to feel too comfortable. We see the exact same issue with companies that are just wireless providers. Our experience and my prediction is that if you are a company that just provides security network infrastructure solutions there is a limited market that you can get to. Just like companies that provide wireless solutions that overlay on somebody else's infrastructure and they don't have a full infrastructure. There is a limited market segment that will embrace those and that portion of the market is shrinking every year.

As providers like ProCurve become more complete and more robust in their offerings, customers are going to have a choice. Do I want to support two management domains or do I want a unified management around my infrastructure? Those of us who are leaders in the infrastructure space, if we execute well, offer credible, complete and comprehensive solutions we are going to be survivors in the space. Even the folks that come in with differentiated values and something important to offer we would be able to match that capability which leaves them in a difficult position. Customers don't want to deal with a lot of foreign objects on their network. They would much rather have an integrated hardware approach with unified management and not a bunch of separate appliances that need to be supported from different providers and lots of warranties with various conditions.

Companies like ProCurve provide comprehensive support strategies, best warranties in the industry and well engineered, robust hardware which ensures a common experience for customers when implementing our design. As we deliver functionality and new products we will make it very difficult for these vendors to encroach on the territory that we own as an infrastructure provider.

How do you perceive assimilation as part of ProCurve's market strategy?

There is always a certain amount of assimilation. ProCurve has to make a decision about whether any company's architecture and value proposition is close enough to ProCurve's value and contribution to the market that we can bring them in or is it better for us to do internal development. For the most part, when we deliver a solution, we need to own it regardless of where the engineering comes from and we are very hesitant to embrace or acquire technologies unless it is really a hand and glove type fit with our value proposition and expectations around reliability and ease of use. Many solutions do not reach those standards and we typically either have strategic partnerships or develop technology ourselves.

What is your perception of IPsec and its impact on the networking industry?

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