HP rolls out stackable Gigabit Ethernet switches

FRAMINGHAM (10/06/2003) - Hewlett-Packard Co. Monday will announce several networking products, including a pair of stackable edge switches that it said can support Gigabit Ethernet transmission speeds.

The new HP ProCurve switches are priced at about US$100 per port, making them the most affordable Gigabit Ethernet switching devices now on the market for edge networking use, claimed Darla Sommerville, general manager of ProCurve networking in HP's Americas region.

The switches began shipping last week along with new ProCurve management software that HP said gives IT managers more network controls, including a single view of wired and wireless networks. HP also released a wireless access point device that was announced last month and supports connectivity via the 802.11b and 802.11g protocols.

Richard Lee, director of operations at Media General Inc. in Richmond, Va., has been using a demonstration model of the 24-port ProCurve Switch 2824 for three months, moving it to different network locations to test it. Lee said he has ordered 20 more switches from HP because the demonstration device has proved to be effective.

For instance, Lee has used the switch to triple the speed of backing up data from Media General's 260 servers, which include IBM AS/400s plus computers running Windows, Unix and other operating systems. Many of the servers have built-in Gigabit Ethernet connections, "so it's advantageous for us to have the speed in the switch," Lee said.

He added that Media General, a newspaper, TV and Internet company with 1,600 employees at its corporate offices, has found HP's switches to be reliable in the past, with upfront prices that were less than half the cost of comparable Cisco Systems Inc. switches.

Chad Williams, director of public-sector sales at Matrix Integration, a Jasper, Ind.-based company that resells and installs Cisco and HP products, said he generally can offer HP switches at half the price per port that Cisco charges. In addition, HP doesn't have an annual maintenance fee, while Cisco charges users about 25 percent of the upfront purchase price of a switch per year, Williams said.

HP's announcements will help round out its line of switches, which have been known more for data center switching than for WAN use, said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

HP ranks third in total Ethernet switch revenue in North America, trailing Cisco and Marlboro, Mass.-based 3Com Corp., Kerravala said.

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