HP ProCurve Plots Wireless Assault

acquisition of wireless vendor Colubris Networks networking 802.11n

The wireless integration, a key component many industry analysts said ProCurve was lacking as it battles networking behemoth Cisco Systems, stems from the Oct. 1 acquisition of Waltham, Mass.-based Colubris, ProCurve's first-ever acquisition.

Tom Racca, ProCurve's chief mobility solutions strategist, said the combined Colubris-ProCurve portfolio, which ties more than 20 Colubris WLAN products under the ProCurve umbrella, will give end users the option to deploy either a fully integrated wireless solution or a wireless overlay, letting them get more life out of existing networking infrastructure while also interoperating with multivendor 802.11 client devices. Along with integrating the product portfolios, ProCurve on Monday also unveiled a new 802.11n access point, the HP ProCurve MSM410, a single-radio, 11n indoor access point designed for discrete installations in hotels, hospitals, dorms and office environments. The doorbell-style single-radio access point was designed to blend in, without visible "spider leg" antennas.

"Now you have the choice of integrated, overlay and 802.11n," Racca said. "It really gives that flexibility in options."

The integration, Racca said, gives channel partners the ability to tell their clients a new story and present them with various wireless options. Since the acquisition last month, Colubris partners have been invited to join ProCurve's partner program. Colubris' own partner program, which Colubris launched in May, will dissolve at the end of the year.

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Racca said partners can now offer a total cost of ownership story to customers with a wired network who need mobility solutions. Through the integration they can upgrade their wired networks to get to wireless and have the options to add an overlay, introduce 11n or integrated wireless fully into wired.

"It's a great opportunity to talk about TCO," he said. "It gives them some real choices."

Carl Blume, ProCurve mobility solutions director, said having those various wireless options gives VARs an edge over competitors who typically only deal in either integrated or overlay solutions, but rarely both.

"Without an overlay solution as a reseller, you're dead," he said.

Additionally, Racca said, ProCurve solution providers can now go into Cisco shops to deliver wireless capabilities, opening up their targeted available market.

Racca said ProCurve is currently offering training and go-to-market options for the integrated product line and engaging sales teams and partner account managers. The goal is to make the combined ProCurve and Colubris channel more nimble.

Along with wrapping together the product lines, the integration will spawn an updated version of ProCurve Manager that adds the ability to automatically discover, map and initiate management of any Colubris product and offer end users a single view of both their wired and wireless network topologies.

All of the integrated Colubris solutions will also be covered by ProCurve's lifetime warranty.

Solution providers praised ProCurve's acquisition of Colubris, and, according to Tim Beech, technical marketing manager for Laurel, Miss.-based solution provider Howard Technology Solutions, the subsequent integration allows him to offer a stronger product set for both wired and wireless networking solutions while also addressing opportunities to deliver in the wireless overlay market.

"The addition of the Colubris product line extends HP ProCurve's reach into vertical markets, such as hospitality, transportation, health care, manufacturing, service provider and education, with no overlap in the channel," he said.

Chris Headings, vice president of operations at Palm Desert, Calif.-based solution provider Sunray Technologies, agreed. Sunray, a ProCurve and Colubris partner focusing on the hospitality industry, said the integration of the two product lines lets him offer clients a one-stop shop for wired and wireless gear while also giving them the most bang for the buck.

"When you sit down with an IT director at a hotel, more times than not they're going to know HP ProCurve," he said. "With Colubris, it becomes a much stronger sales tool for us."

Headings said Sunray can now go into existing ProCurve accounts and offer a strong wireless story while also going into clients with competitive networking gear that have heard of ProCurve, but may not recognize Colubris by name, and talk about integration.

"Colubris is now ProCurve; that puts us in a stronger position," he said.

Overall, Headings said, the integration will open doors not just in the hospitality industry, but in other verticals looking to either add or upgrade Wi-Fi.

The integrated solutions, along with the new 802.11n access point, the MSM410, will be available through ProCurve's distribution channels in January. The suggested retail price for the MSM410 is $649.