HP vs Cisco

by CXOtoday Staff    Nov 05, 2004

The ProCurve 3400cl switch released yesterday indicates HP’s progress in establishing itself as an alternative to market leader Cisco Systems. Research firm Gartner has strongly recommended that CIOs consider the switch for bandwidth-hungry applications and for LANs with less than 5,000 nodes.

The Gigabit Ethernet switch is a fixed-configuration device with either 24 or 48 tri-speed (10/100/1000 Mbps) ports and two 10-gigabit Ethernet uplinks.

It is expected to enable IT managers to connect many fast computers to a LAN or to aggregate gigabit links from several switches with 10-gigabit uplinks. The LAN Backbone must contain 10 gigabits to support the gigabit links to the desktop that vendors are pushing. Most applications today don’t even make full use of 100-Mbps Ethernet. However, because the prices of gigabit links have fallen, vendors claim they are a good way of “future proofing” corporate networks.

Gartner expects HP’s ProCurve Networking business unit to offer a version of the 3400cl that will also support Power over Ethernet (PoE), providing a more complete future-proofing alternative.

Prices for 10-gigabit Ethernet switches remain high, although they’re falling as more vendors enter the market. HP claims the 3400cl offers similar performance to Cisco’s Catalyst 3750G-16TD, a 16-port switch, for about one-fifth of the price.

3Com has also recently released midrange switches with 10-gigabit uplinks. HP’s aggressive pricing, its established position in corporate data centers and its financial stability should all make the 3400cl attractive to enterprise networks.

HP has taken several actions since 2003 to challenge Cisco’s dominance of the switch market. It has introduced several products and increased its market share significantly. But it still has a long way to go before it can compete with Cisco. In 2Q04, HP had a meager 3.7 percent share of worldwide revenue, compared with Cisco’s 74.9 percent. HP’s shipments market share was 7.2 percent; Cisco’s was 39.9 percent.

To summarize, businesses should definitely put HP in their shortlist of potential suppliers, suggested Gartner.