HP Debuts Branch Office Networking Suite

HP is continuing the evolution of its networking portfolio this week with the announcement of the Branch Office Networking Solution, a new offering integrates application delivery with switching gear.

At launch, the solution will be enabled with applications that are available from Avaya, Riverbed, Citrix and Microsoft.

The new offering comes as rival Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) releases its own expanded application delivery effort in networking gear with the UCS Express service.

“The HP Branch Office Networking Solution is an all-in-one converged connectivity and high-performance application service,” Jay Mellman, senior director of product and solution marketing at HP’s Networking division, told InternetNews.com.”By basing it on our modular E5400 or E8200 switching platforms, we can deliver dramatically less cabling in less space with less power.”

Mellman noted that applications for the Branch Office Networking Solution run on a zl module that plugs into the E5400 or E8200 switches.

Though HP (NYSE: HPQ) is officially announcing the Branch Office Networking Solution this week, it’s part of an effort that has been under way at the company for nearly two years. In January of 2009, HP first announced its ProCurve One initiative, also with the 5400 and 8200 series switches and also using the zl module.

“You could argue that it took a long time from the time we announced this to the time that we’ve actually been able to deliver,” Mellman said. “We’re at a point now where the technology can offer the performance and experience that we need.”

Rival Cisco, meanwhile, has had an application server on a network router even prior to HP’s initial ProCurve One announcement. The Cisco AXP server module for the ISR router was first announced in April 2008. Cisco this week updated the AXP vision with the UCS Express service for its ISR G2 routers, providing VMware technology for application delivery on a router.

Mellman said that the Branch Office Networking Solution is different than Cisco’s offering in a number of ways. The biggest difference is the fact that Cisco is integrated application delivery with routers, while HP is choosing switches as the integration point.

“I couldn’t tell you if the services blade for the ISR looks and smells different from our zl module, but I can tell you that the way customers will experience it is probably far different,” Mellman said.

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

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