HP's FlexNetwork Architecture Ramps Up War With Cisco


Hewlett-Packard Monday went live with HP FlexNetwork, an architecture for converged networking in the data center, campus and branch that HP says will allow enterprises to leverage virtualization, mobility and cloud computing much more flexibly.

HP was set to make the announcement in a press conference in Las Vegas Monday, in line with the kickoff of Interop, where some of HP's top executives, including David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) business, are scheduled to speak.

The FlexNetwork architecture approach, with which HP is also debuting several new products in various HP Networking lines, is also HP's latest challenge to Cisco, which has for some time promoted the idea of converged networking and data center architectures for enterprise computing and is nearly two years into Borderless Networks, one of its architectural visions.

The architecture trend among channel-facing networking and data center vendors has firmly caught on. FlexNetwork, for example, also follows last week's CloudPlex announcement from Brocade, which is also intended to combine compute, storage and networking components into a single converged architecture with an eye toward enterprise cloud computing requirements.

FlexNetwork, according to HP, eliminates networking "silos" to speed service delivery for customers across data center, campus and branch networks. In a statement, HP said that "single-vendor, proprietary approaches, such as Cisco's, lock in customers while driving up cost and complexity with different architectures required at each point in the network, including data center, campus and branch."

It's the latest in an increasingly bitter war of words between the two companies -- one that finds Cisco playing defense as HP Networking makes gains against Cisco's core networking businesses. Cisco, which has been criticized for its end-to-end network architecture approach that some say costs customers more than they need to be paying, recently took to the Web to illustrate the differences between its single-vendor network vision and what it calls "commodity networking" companies.

Mike Banic, vice president of marketing, HP Networking, said in an interview with CRN that HP's FlexNetwork architecture will solve the problem of "disjointed networking architectures" and help customers evolve from "stifling" legacy network approaches.

"FlexNetwork is what we've observed our own customers doing -- the process they went through to start to introduce HP solutions," Banic said. "We've now come up with a framework for how to lather, rinse and repeat that. This is going to make it easy to migrate to HP Networking."

NEXT: HP's New Products For FlexNetwork