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NEC is also cultivating a presence in SDN and the market for virtualized networking. Its efforts so far include the OpenFlow-based ProgrammableFlow technology it launched as a set of switch, controller and management products last year, partly developed with IBM.
"SDN is absolutely a key part of the strategy," Hooper said. "By focusing on open standards, you are focusing on giving customers the freedom to make choices about how they manage their infrastructure. When you're acquiring proprietary protocols, well, we've seen many different instances in the past few years where it leads you down a path to short-term gains but not long-term profitability. SDN is a buzzword right now, but a buzzword building off the open standards work that was happening in the rest of the IT business and which was sorely needed in networking."
Hooper said he was proud of the work done at HP, particularly in HP Networking, which has posted modest growth this year even as other HP enterprise segments have declined in revenue. But the NEC opportunity is a chance worth taking, he said.
"I was extremely happy at HP over the five years, but when you have an opportunity like this one come up in your career, you have to at least evaluate it," Hooper said. "It's the right move at the right time."