HP Launches FlexNetwork Architecture

By Sean Michael Kerner | May 9, 2011 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/datacenter/HP-Launches-FlexNetwork-Architecture-3933026.htm

Building a modern network isn't just about switches and routers anymore. The modern network is about having an architecture built for convergence, virtualization and the cloud. HP today took the wraps off its new, modern network architecture dubbed FlexNetwork. The new architecture includes an evolution of the HP ProCurve networking heritage alongside new version of gear with roots in 3Com. HP acquired 3Com in 2010 for $2.7 billion.

Kash Shaikh, Director of Marketing, HP Networking, told InternetNews.com that as part of the FlexNetworking rollout, HP is announcing the A10500, a new core switch evolved from the former 3Com product lineup. The A10500 provides up to 2.56 Tbps of capacity in one chassis. HP has plans to make the A10500 available with a 48 port, 10 GbE line card. The 48 port card will enable HP to deliver 384 line rate ports.

"The performance is a combination of capacity and latency," Shaikh said. "From a customer's point of view the numbers are related."

Shaikh added that as HP is increasing the performance, the latency remains the same. HP is also looking at scaling the A10500 with a 40 GbE line rate card that is being demonstrated at the Interop conference in Las Vegas this week.

In terms of scalability, Shaikh noted that the new A10500 switch can be clustered enabling a data center to manage multiple switches as one. In total, the clustered capacity of the A10500 could enable the switch to scale to up to 1,500 ports.

HP emphasizes standards with FlexNetwork

Shaikh stressed that HP's FlexNetwork architecture is all about embracing industry standards. He added that the architecture will be supporting the TRILL standard as a replacement for spanning tree. Rival vendor Cisco has its own implementation of TRILL called FabricPath.

Shaikh also took aim at Juniper Network's Qfabric which is another approach to flatten network architectures. He referred to Qfabric as a proprietary technology that would lead to vendor lock-in. Juniper announced Qfabric earlier this year.

Security features in FlexNetwork

Security is also a key component of HP's architecture. Michael Callahan Director, WorldWide Security Product and Solution Marketing for HP Networking told InternetNews.com that the new HP TippingPoint 6100N IPS provides 60 percent more performance than prior versions of the same platform.

Callahan added that each 6100N can inspect 8 Gbps of traffic and can be clustered in a pair to inspect up to 16 Gbps of traffic.

Performance alone isn't what differentiates the new IPS. Callahan noted that the 6100N also benefits from TippingPoint's DVlabs and its associated Zero Day Initiative (ZDI). ZDI pays security researchers for vulnerabilities and then discloses the information to the affected vendor. HP does not publicly disclose the vulnerability inside of 180 days, unless the vendor patches the flaw first. In the meantime, HP IPS customers get 180 of security lead time that other IPS vendors cannot provide. Additionally, Callahan noted that the 6100N could be used as a Web Application Firewall (WAF), due to its application vulnerability knowledge base.

Rounding out HP's new solutions is an improved management system called Intelligent Management Center (IMC). that enables IT managers to have a "single pane of glass" view.

"IMC is unique in that it provides management across all of the building blocks of FlexNetwork and allows the IT manager to control all the devices that are on the network," Shaikh said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.