Interop: Key Vendors Expand Network Offerings

HP, Cisco, and Avaya unveil new products and services during Interop Las Vegas 2010 keynote presentations.

Whether through acquisition or homegrown offerings, major networking vendors HP, Avaya, and Cisco are adding to their product portfolios with an eye to becoming one-stop shops for next-generation infrastructures, Interop Las Vegas 2010 attendees learned at Monday's opening keynote presentations.

Marius Haas, SVP and worldwide GM for HP Networking, told a packed conference room that his company has "made a lot of headway" in developing a product roadmap that integrates offerings from 3Com, which HP formally acquired earlier this month for $2.7 billion.

HP plans to add 3Com's network switching, routing, and security products to its ProCurve line of networking gear. The company ultimately wants to offer customers an "edge-to-core" network fabric.

The network "needs to be the glue that brings together all the different infrastructure components" to support advanced architectures like virtualization and cloud computing, said Haas.

He added that HP's buyout of 3Com will result in the rollout of new products and services faster than if the two companies had simply struck an alliance. "It's very difficult to due in a partner ecosystem," said Haas.

HP is already putting 3Com's technology to work in its Houston datacenter. "All our critical requirements can now be met by HP solutions," said HP CIO Randy Mott, who joined Haas on the Interop stage.

Haas noted that, as CIO, Mott maintained the right to use networking technologies from competing vendors—but opted for a platform consisting primarily of HP/3Com offerings. "If our team couldn't convince him this was the best solution, it wasn't going to happen," said Haas.

HP isn't the only tech vendor that's bulking up its offering through acquisition. Avaya last year bought out Nortel's Enterprise Business unit for $900 million.

Avaya president and CEO Kevin Kennedy, another Interop keynote speaker, said the merger gives his company the opportunity to develop a full range of "fit for purpose" IP telephony and networking solutions.

On Monday, Avaya added four new products that integrate Avaya and Nortel technologies and services—the Ethernet Routing Switch 8800, the Wireless LAN 8100 Series, the Unified Communications Management, Configuration, and Orchestration Manager, and the Advanced Gateway 2330.

"We made a commitment to the industry that we'd move forward with four [new product] announcements" following the Nortel acquisition said Kennedy. Monday's release was the second, and Kennedy said two more significant launches remain in the pipeline.

Kennedy said SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which facilitates multi-user collaboration sessions and other advanced communications services, will be at the heart of his new company's products and services. He called SIP "a consolidating technology" that builds upon inroads made by TCIP.

Cisco also used the Interop stage to announce a significant product launch.

The networking giant's new CleanAir technology, built into its just-launched Aironet 3500 Series Access Points, allows users to sniff out and mitigate sources of RF interference—such as video cameras, microwaves, or signal jammers, on wireless networks, said Brett Galloway, senior VP for Cisco's Wireless, Security, and Routing Technology group.

Galloway said the technology adds to Cisco's strategy of delivering products and services that will provide a foundation for the virtual workplace.

"We've come to take for granted that products interoperate and that we can be connected," said Galloway. "We bring those expectations from home to work," Galloway added.

The problem, he said, is that consumer communications tools have exceeded business tools in terms of quality and simplicity. "Our users are frustrated," he said.

The challenge for Cisco and other vendors, Galloway said, is to continue to improve their technologies to the point where work becomes "no longer a place you go, but a thing you do."

Interop Las Vegas runs through April 29th at the Mandalay Bay conference center. The keynote session wraps up Tuesday morning, when Dr. Kristof Kloeckner, vice president for Strategy & Enterprise Initiatives, Systems & Software, and CTO, Cloud Computing at IBM, takes the stage to discuss Big Blue's cloud efforts.

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