HP Pushing Energy Efficiency Standard With Switch Upgrades

Ethernet switch

The IEEE Energy Efficient Ethernet Standard, also known as IEEE 802.3az, automatically adjusts energy usage by networked devices based on their actual traffic. According to HP, most ports in an enterprise network are idle some 80 percent of their potential use time -- simply not a good distribution of resources for cash-conscious companies, in other words.

The release of the E-Series zl modules, for E5400 and E8200 switch lines, means switches that automatically enter sleep mode -- along with the connected, 802.3az-supported devices --- when they're not transmitting any traffic, using less energy than if they were idling at full power. They can also "wake back up" immediately.

Sreeram Krishnamarachi, global product manager, HP Networking, said that the move would mean simple upgrades for existing customers and more sales hooks for HP Networking channel partners.

"For existing customers, there isn't a new license they need to procure, and from a channel perspective, this is a great story to tell," he said.

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HP's E5400 and E8200 switches, introduced in 2006 and 2007 respectively, have seen consistent adoption and been critical to HP's growth in the space, Krishnamarachi said. Current pricing for the 5400 lines runs between $2,419 and $17,199 depending on capabilities and features, and the 8200 lines between $7,999 and $22,999.

Existing customers need to purchase the modules (which top out at $4,799) but there are no other upgrade costs, Krishnamarachi said. The modules are put into the existing chassis, and activate with a firmware upgrade. New customers can buy a base configuration at 48 or 96 ports, along with the power supply, management module and software.

Mark Hilton, global product line manager for HP Networking, said HP continues to execute well on its networking agenda against entrenched rivals like Cisco, and is growing faster than the market itself. HP's networking business grew 50 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"We're the firm No. 2," he said, referring to market share. "There's no question at all about that at this point."