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ProCurve At The Next Level

ProCurve Networking by Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer giant's networking unit, is shipping a software update that allows its switches to be managed and deployed at the edge of networks running IPv6, the new IP addressing scheme.

computer networking software edge IP

The software update is for ProCurve Switch series 8200, 6200, 5400 and 3500. The update also includes a new feature called QinQ, which lets customers build large campus or metro-area networks based on Ethernet connectivity.

Taufique Ahmed, ProCurve's product marketing manager for the Americas, said the new features improve security, convergence, ease of deployment and diagnostics.

The update also enhances IP telephony deployments. Providing IPv6 networking for IP applications such as telephony results in a seamless and consistent user experience, Ahmed said. The additions also speed up IP telephony deployments by automatically configuring VLANs for IP phones using new Radius attributes and LLDP.

The updated switch software has undergone interoperability testing with other vendors, Ahmed said, and the IPv6 Forum has approved it as "IPv6-ready." The IPv6 Forum estimates that addresses for IPv4, IPv6's predecessor, will be depleted in just over four years, making it a requirement to cut over to IPv6 or to a dual-stack mode in which IPv4 and v6 are run together. The U.S. government is under a mandate to switch to IPv6 by the middle of this year.

Kevin Kabat, ProCurve's sales and marketing director, commercial business segment for the Americas, said the updates reinforce a promise ProCurve made to the channel with the announcement two years ago that its 3500 and 5400 series switches had IPv6 capabilities built into the hardware.

So far, Kabat said, channel partners have been asking about IPv6 in peaks and valleys: Many are talking about it, but few have begun offering IPv6 capabilities to clients.

"Partners want to know where they stand," he said, adding that ProCurve wants to train and talk to partners about IPv6 plans both they and their customers have. "We want to make sure the partners have that kind of information."

Kabat said many ProCurve partners are trained in IPv6 and ready to go. Susan Jabbusch, vice president of Carolina Advanced Digital (CAD), a Siler City, N.C.-based solution provider, said the addition of IPv6 support to ProCurve's lineup is a breath of fresh air, especially since CAD had recently started to miss out on new federal accounts because the company did not offer IPv6.

Next: IPv6 Support
"We were just getting our teeth kicked in," she said, adding CAD was losing potential accounts—not only federal, but local government as well—to Cisco Systems Inc. because it offered IPv6 and it appeared ProCurve had it on the back burner. "For us, this has just been an uphill battle since we were in the federal space. If your customers demand it, you need to do it."

Jabbusch said CAD is a longtime ProCurve reseller and is excited that the software updates feature IPv6 support.

"We were really at a crossroads there, saying we'll either not play in the federal space for a while or look for alternatives," she said. "I'd imagine a lot of other partners who sell into that space were doing the same."

The updated software also gives ProCurve's switch line improved Power-Over-Ethernet redundancy and reduced power usage by using new allocation methods, which will also enhance IP telephony applications. Last, the updates enhance network security and uptime by protecting the topology of Spanning Tree networks from misconfiguration or malicious attacks.

Technical benefits include improved network security and diagnostics by allowing Remote Intelligent Mirroring to replicate traffic based on a MAC address in addition to VLAN, port number and Access Control List. The advanced diagnostics can help resolve network issues faster.

ProCurve also increased the size of its event log message and allows events to be selectively reported based on level of severity and functional grouping. The QinQ feature leverages Ethernet simplicity and speed for metro-area networks, meaning multiple buildings on one campus can connect to the same LAN using the same protocols, as opposed to relying on the WAN for connectivity, Ahmed said. Also, the software includes features to easily configure switches in remote locations and automate IP telephony deployments.

Those technical enhancements benefit customers by boosting their Internet communications and helping them meet the pending mandates for IPv6. They also reduce the overall cost of connecting different locations in a metro area, while preventing network attacks and securing high-volume information in security-sensitive environments such as finance, health care, education and government organizations.

Overall, Ahmed said, the updates will increase productivity and allow the network to scale up in a cost-effective way.

The software updates are free for existing ProCurve customers.

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