HPE: Clock Signal Component Issue May Affect 'Limited' Number Of Products

A significant product replacement affecting some of Cisco's most popular routers, switches and firewalls may be impacting a limited number of Hewlett Packard Enterprise products as well, according to an HPE company spokesperson

The problem some have speculated could be a result of a faulty Intel C2000 Atom processor. Intel in January notified OEMs of Atom processor C2000 issues in a 37 page specification update.

"To the best of our knowledge, our customers are not experiencing failures due to the Intel C2000 chip, which is deployed on a limited number of our products," said an HPE spokesperson in an email to CRN. "We remain committed to assuring the highest quality experience from our solutions and are proactively working with Intel to mitigate any future risk and impact on our customers."

[RELATED: Partners Expect Potential Customer Downtime, Months-Long Resource Drain From Cisco Product Replacement Effort]

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HPE did not identify the affected products, provide details on how it plans to mitigate the problem for impacted customers or disclose what role solution providers will play in those plans.

HPE had 5.5 percent of the worldwide Ethernet switch and router market share for the third quarter of 2016, compared to Cisco's 57 percent share, according to Framingham, Mass.-based IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Ethernet Switch and Router Tracker. The 5.5 percent share does not include the products from the HPE's H3C Chinese Chinese networking partnership with Tsinghua Holdings' subsidiary Unisplendour Corporation,

The HPE response comes after Cisco Feb. 2 disclosed a product replacement plan affecting some of its most popular equipment, including its Nexus switches, Adaptive Security Appliance firewalls, Integrated Services Routers and Meraki cloud-based managed switches.

The problem stems from a faulty third-party clock signal component that Cisco has said leads to product failures, which increase over time beginning after the units have been in operation for approximately 18 months.

Cisco has said it does not expect a noticeable increase in failures until "year three of runtime."

Cisco has declined to name the supplier of the component.

Impacted systems "will stop functioning, will not boot and [are] not recoverable," Cisco said.

Cisco is providing replacements for impacted products that are under warranty or covered by any valid services contracted dated as of Nov. 16, 2016. It is not providing installation services or offering reimbursement funding to channel partners who are providing replacement and installation services of the replacement products.

A number of Cisco partners are furious that they are being forced to shoulder the full cost of on-site installation of the affected products without any assistance from Cisco.

HPE for its part would not comment as to whether it will re-imburse partners for its own set of failed products. CRN is attempting to determine through solution providers if HPE has given any indication to them about cost reimbursement.

HPE partners, meanwhile, say they are aggressively moving to get Cisco customers impacted by the product replacement plan to switch to HPE networking products.

Raymond Tuchman, CEO of Experis Technology Group, a fast-growing Potomac, Md.-based private cloud powerhouse with its own 80,000 square foot cloud services data center, said he was "shocked and surprised" by Cisco's response to the faulty component.

"I do not understand why Cisco would take this type of posture making the VARs bear the cost of on-site installation of these products. HPE would never do this. They would take care of the clients and Experis."

Tuchman said his team is proactively reaching out to its own HPE customers to see if there are any equipment failures stemming from the faulty clock signal component issue. "We have not seen the clock problem with the HPE networking equipment we have supplied to clients over the last few years," he said. "I know if there was an issue HPE would support us in every way and make sure the clients and Experis were taken care of."

Experis is targeting Cisco customers impacted by the faulty component replacement effort. "I am telling Cisco customers that HPE and Experis are going to stand solidly behind you."

The top sales executive for a national HPE Platinum partner, who did not want to be identified, said he and his team are also targeting Cisco customers impacted by the replacement plan.

"This is a huge HPE networking opportunity," said the sales executive. "It is big. We see it as a great opportunity to go to Cisco shops and have a conversation about potentially switching to HPE. We are going to Cisco shops, asking them if they got the replacement memo and ask them what their plan is."

The sales executive said his team is offering a network design service to assess the IT environment and make a recommendation for HPE product with a return on investment scenario.

A big part of the message from the HPE Platinum partner: "That Cisco network that you put in five to seven years ago was not designed for today's workloads. Today it is all about wireless connectivity, streaming video. There is a new modality taxing the networks of the past. If you are going to experience this pain and have to replace stuff, why not look at another option?"

The executive said he would be surprised if HPE does not come out with some kind of "promotion" that targets Cisco customers impacted by the faulty clock signal component issue.