HP Details 3Com Integration With Sword Drawn Against Cisco

3Com, which HP finished acquiring last week for $2.7 billion, will become part of HP's new HP Networking group, which will also include the products in HP's existing ProCurve networking line.

David Donatelli, executive vice president and general manger of HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking business unit, wasted no time Monday taking shots at Cisco. On a conference call discussing the 3Com integration, Donatelli described the acquisition as "the beginning of an important new story in technology."

"It starts and ends with one message," he said. "HP will transform the networking industry by offering clients choice where there was none before."

HP favors open standards at competitive price points, Donatelli argued. He didn't mention Cisco by name, but instead described a market share leader that has "limited IT clients' ability to grow" and is "high cost" and "slow to innovate."

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"They have wanted a better choice in networking," he said. "HP is that better choice."

HP Networking will be headed by Marius Haas, senior vice president and general manager, and is part of Donatelli's group. All of 3Com's existing products, from its TippingPoint security portfolio to its voice offerings, have homes within HP Networking, and according to Donatelli, no products will be dropped in the short-term.

On the conference call, Donatelli and Haas made a case for HP as an alternative to network infrastructure that's, as Donatelli put it, "vulnerable and expensive." Networking, he explained, is the cornerstone of HP's converged infrastructure strategy and enables customers to adopt products "in modular fashion without rip-and-replace," and use them with "single pane of glass management."

"We now have everything we need to win in the marketplace," he said.

HP's will be the favored brand for all products. ProCurve and 3Com products now fall into four categories, from HP A-series to HP S-series, each addressing different areas of networking, from security to branch office to large-scale enterprise deployments.

HP has also added TippingPoint to HP Secure Advantage, its data security portfolio. All will be supported by HP Services, the company's integrator arm, and also offered through what Haas says is a networking VAR partner base of 40,000.

"HP is playing to win," Donatelli noted, saying that HP would use "all of the company's assets" to transform its networking and data center offerings.For partners, HP will be adding compensation and certifications in its existing partner programs. Donatelli and Haas didn't offer many specific details on what those will be, but said HP would be reaching out to existing 3Com partners and matching them up with proper HP certifications and partner classifications. "Best of breed" HP and 3Com programs, they said, would be the ones ultimately selected.

"We will be recruiting incremental channel partners as part of the go to market strategy," Donatelli described. "This is a $40 billion market, and [we see] an enormous opportunity together with the partner ecosystem to gain a disproportionate share of the market."

Asked about whether partners who sell both HP and Cisco networking products will be pressured to choose sides, Donatelli said there would be "no pressure exerted."

"We've always had a view that it's a heterogeneous world and customers want choice, and we offer our VARs the same opportunity," he said. "There will be no pressure exerted to do it other than us offering great products."

As for vendor partnerships, Haas and Donatelli said HP would continue to work with with vendors in storage networking and voice where it has traditionally partnered.

Beyond Cisco, Haas and Donatelli said HP has more than enough products and "stands apart" in market share against other alternative competitors like Juniper and Brocade.

"The data center is a place where customers really want to buy not only your technology and your roadmap but also make sure you're a company of size that's going to be around for a long period of time," Donatelli said. "If you compare HP to the other alternatives in the networking space, clearly that's an area where we stand apart. We're No. 2 in the space for a reason."

HP also said Monday that one of its new data centers, based near Houston, was built using entirely HP or 3Com gear, and is 100 percent "Cisco-free." Its other five data centers will over time be converted to similar architecture, according to HP.

HP offered no further details on the role of 3Com executives in HP going forward. A January filing by 3Com with the Securities & Exchange Commission indicated that 3Com's top executives, including CEO Robert Mao and COO Ron Sege, would be in line for multimillion dollar severance packages if the company was sold.