HP Calls Out Cisco With Data-Center Switches
As part of a truckload of data-center announcements it made Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard Co. is bringing out new switches that target the Cisco Systems Inc. Nexus line. It's part of what's sure to be a data-center frenzy leading up to Interop next week. Brocade Communications Systems Inc. helped get the hype machine started Tuesday, with an announcement of its own. (See Brocade Spruces Up for Data Centers.) The star of HP's show, or at least the product with the biggest number, is the FlexFabric 12900 core switch, which can fit 768 10Gbit/s ports or 256 40Gbit/s ports. Cisco's 18-slot Nexus 7018 claims to have the same 10Gbit/s density but only has cards to support 96 40Gbit/s ports. HP is also claiming the 12900 the first chassis-based switch to support OpenFlow 1.3, the latest version of the control-plane protocol. (Earlier in April, Noviflow laid claim to the first OpenFlow 1.3 switch in general, and for what it's worth, Ixia launched what it claims is the first OpenFlow 1.3 testing gear. Throughout May, we'll expect to see as many "firsts" as there are product categories remaining.) HP is also launching the FlexFabric 11900, which is a new data-center switch for end-of-row or aggregation purposes, and the HSR 6800, which is a smaller switch meant to compete with the Cisco ASR 1000. The FlexFabric 12900 and 11900 are due to ship in October and June, respectively. The HSR 6800 is shipping now. Other pieces announced by HP on Tuesday include:
- A new virtual switch, the 5900V, which is based on HP's 5900 top-of-rack switch
- The intelligent resilient fabric, which links two switches at different tiers of the network -- a core switch and an access switch, for instance -- so they can operate as one logical switch
- HP's first management app for software-defined networking (SDN), running on HP's Intelligent Managment Center (IMC; the term for the company's network management software). The app can automate the OpenFlow-based configuring of a switch, and it can be used to monitor the control layer. This lets the operator know when there's a failure, or when it's time to add more OpenFlow controllers.
HP was an early devotee of OpenFlow, as the company put OpenFlow support on all of its switches. But it's going to take more than that to get attention in an SDN-happy world, so HP is now trying to show it can go head-to-head against Cisco in the data center. The switching market is becoming highly competitive in terms of system stats, although of course, it will take time to see if HP and other competitors can have any effect in terms of market share. In the meantime, let the trash-talking continue: "It's almost as though Cisco's been asleep at the switch [pun intended, we think] when it comes to the business that made the company," says Mike Banic, HP's vice president of global marketing. For more Light Reading