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Posted by Andre Kindness on September 15, 2010
The other day I was just reminiscing with a friend who works at HP about all the good times I had there with my ProCurve family. When I left for a once in lifetime opportunity, I had so much hope for HP’s networking division. Like many of my inquiries from global customers looking for a Cisco alternative, I’m concerned about the division and its long-term viability. I’m not worried if HP will continue to exist without Mark Hurd. Companies are more than a single leader. There is plenty of research, books, and online debates about the effect of a single person: Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, John Chambers, etc. The issue at hand is the existence of product lines within enormous companies, like networking within HP. One of my mentors always said, “If you look at networking over the last twenty years, no major IT company or voice vendor has been able to pull off being a serious networking vendor if networking wasn’t its first priority.” Fundamentally networking is one of the few technologies where a vendor has to be all in. The networking graveyard is full of headstones: Nortel fell off the face of earth, IBM sold off its assets, and Dell hobbles along.
Ah, you might say, what about HP? That brings me to my three observations that every IT manager should consider when including HP in their network architecture:
Networks are a 5-8 year investment, and there are too many changes and unknowns to make large investment into HP’s networking division. Infrastructure and operational personnel should not run away from HP but be cautious and take edge to core approach to refreshing the network. Trends show companies moving to a dual networking environment, and the market is offering solid networking alternatives like Juniper and Brocade.
In the meantime, while we wait for HP, we have the OpenFlow movement, mobility, empowerment, virtualization, and data center convergence providing ripe opportunities to shake up the networking industry while we watch HP and its Minnow weather the latest storm. Speaking of data center convergence, keep your eyes peeled for reports from me and Rich Fichera about data center, virtualization, data center networking, and data center convergence. Leverage James Staten’s principles in his report about virtualization and data center consolidation, Are Converged Infrastructures Good For IT, to prepare your next network refresh.
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