HP Branch Router Buyer's Guide

With hardware consolidation and sophisticated services placing greater demands on equipment, HP says its branch router line is ready to ride the wave.

 By Drew Robb
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HP is number two in the branch router industry according to Dell'Oro Group. As such, the company is well positioned to comment on emerging trends. Kowshik Bhat, Global Marketing Manager for HP Networking, points out a number of trends impacting the branch router field. Reduced IT footprint, for instance, means companies are consolidating multiple devices and moving towards converged connectivity solutions. In smaller branches, therefore, all-in-one solutions are popular because they integrate wired, wireless and services into a single platform. Services like Voice over IP (VoIP), video on demand (VoD), WAN acceleration, security, wireless, monitoring and management are increasingly being integrated within the network platforms.

Another trend, he said, is toward managed services. Around the globe, branch office routers are predominantly administered by managed service providers (MSP). With all-in-one solutions, it is understandable that small branches are prime targets for soup-to-nuts services by MSPs.

"However, in larger branches we continue to see the routing platform (supported by MSP) segregated from the switching network (customer managed)," said Bhat. "This is a result of higher performance needs, compliance requirements, consistent user experience and required port density needed for larger deployments."

Beyond that, he said that some industries are demanding sophisticated security and compliance capabilities beyond the traditional scope of firewalls or ACLs on the router. Adoption of cloud services, too, is raising the necessity to deploy WAN optimization technologies in the branch, be it an overlay or an integrated capability.

To address these trends, HP offers a wide portfolio of networking offerings. These are generally separated by HP into categories according to branch size, deployment flexibility and usage type.

HP Branch Router Segmentation

For size-driven segmentation, small or telecommuter branch office, medium branch office and large branch office are the designations. The routers designed for these segments vary depending in the needs of the customer. Each router can support varying functionality, connectivity performance and service needs of the branches.

In the deployment flexibility camp, segmentation is driven by product capability. Smaller routers tend to have a fixed configuration while larger models are modular and provide greater flexibility via interface cards. In addition, users sometimes seek converged solutions to deliver integrated services in order to deploy new capabilities faster.

"The customers in this category are divided by the desire for ease of deployment with fixed configuration versus flexible services with modular routers," said Bhat.

This article was originally published on May 21, 2011
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