HP Kicks Off Discover With New SDN Switches, Network Virtualization App

Hewlett-Packard Monday bolstered its software-defined networking portfolio with a new line of FlexFabric data center switches and an open-source network virtualization solution that will be delivered as part of its HP Helion OpenStack distribution.

HP also introduced a set of professional services aimed at helping customers migrate their networks to SDN technology.

HP's new SDN offerings were unveiled Monday at the HP Discover event, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

[Related: HP Unleashes 12 New Enterprise Products At HP Discover ]

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At the forefront of the new products is the HP Virtual Cloud Networking SDN Application, an open-source network virtualization solution that HP said will drive the networking component of its OpenStack Helion distribution.

According to Kash Shaikh, Global Marketing Leader, HP Networking, the HP Virtual Cloud Networking SDN Application allows an organization to create a dedicated, isolated network for each of its private or hybrid clouds. It's aimed at the enterprise and at cloud service providers, who can use the software to accelerate the delivery of the unique SLAs and applications associated with each of their cloud environments.

"It will provide isolated networks for either private cloud environments in medium to large enterprises, or for cloud service providers when they are providing cloud services to multiple clients or customers," Shaikh said.

The HP Virtual Cloud Networking SDN Application is designed to run on HP's Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller. Shaikh said the software would be available in August as part of HP Helion OpenStack.

Chad Williams, vice president of research and engineering at Matrix Integration, a Jasper, Ind.-based HP partner, said solutions such as the HP Virtual Cloud Networking SDN Application suggest HP is investing heavily in the network virtualization market. He also applauded HP's increasing support of OpenStack.

"I mean, number one for us, when we use the word 'OpenStack,' that’s a very big thing for us because of the capability and the support it has for basically all platforms,’ Williams said. "HP's specific virtual cloud networking SDN application that they are coming out with, in my mind, this is very similar to what VMware did 10 years ago for the server side of things, but taking it down to the network."

David Hall, senior vice president of infrastructure solutions at CompuCom, a Dallas-based HP partner, agreed that HP's investments in OpenStack are a big differentiator when it comes to both its cloud and SDN strategy.

"You hear a number of different things from different customers as to why they support [OpenStack]," Hall said. "Primarily, it boils down to a few things. One is that it gives a higher level of comfort that they are not being locked into a specific OEM or technology. It gives them more flexibility and agility in their approach to market."

NEXT: Introducing HP FlexFabric 7900 Switches

HP also took the wraps off its FlexFabric 7900 series of data center switches. Designed to be used alongside HP's SDN controller, the 7900 series switches are a new form factor, Shaikh said, delivering the scalability and density of a high-end modular chassis but in a smaller form factor with lower energy and cooling costs.

Like HP's other FlexFabric switches, the new 7900 series supports the OpenFlow open-source protocol. Shaikh said the 7900 series switches, which start at $55,500 and are available now, can scale to support up to 120 40 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

HP FlexFabric, HP's flagship SDN switching line, has seen "significant" traction in the market since its launch last year, Shaikh said, with HP's data center switching business up roughly 37 percent year over year.

According to Shaikh, HP is ahead of competitors such as Cisco when it comes to embracing the OpenFlow protocol in its networking portfolio. He said HP today has 50 switches and 10 routers -- totaling about 30 million active ports in the market -- that support OpenFlow.

"It's the broadest [OpenFlow] portfolio," Shaikh said. "Nobody even comes close. While Cisco has started talking about support… we actually have the switches that are capable of it."
Rob Soderbery, senior vice president of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group, responded to CRN's request for comment, stating: "Cisco supports the OpenFlow protocol across all our switches. The open community discussion is much broader and Cisco is engaged and continues to drive and contribute to other standards, including: OpenDaylight, OpenStack and NETCONF/YANG."

Lastly, HP said Monday that it's rolling out a new set of services called the HP Trusted Network Transformation services portfolio. These services, which include network assessments and design, are meant to help customers migrate to SDN- and cloud-ready environments.

They will be delivered by both HP and its partners.

"Nobody is not on cloud today and then on the cloud tomorrow," said Williams. "There is a transformation and there is a migration. So the fact that HP has included this within their portfolio, and are offering this through their partners, it lets us go in and do much more consulting and services to help the customers through that entire process."

"Even if we typically wouldn’t do every step, now we can," Williams added. "In those areas we need assistance, HP will be there."