HP Networking Readies the World for SDN

By Erik Linask April 02, 2014

There have been few periods in history where multiple mega-trends have combined to drive as much change in business operations as four major shifts are creating today. Cloud computing, mobility, security, and big data are collectively changing business strategy in very meaningful ways, driving new, agile business models that are designed to much more quickly and effectively react to changing market dynamics.

While many of the business enhancements that have resulted have been initiated at business group levels or from the IT department, these four trends have now combined to create an underlying need, which is being defined at the top levels of enterprise organizations. Specifically, C-level executives, tasked with ensuring the overall responsiveness and success of their businesses, have recognized that while new hardware and applications have the potential to dramatically increase business performance, underlying legacy network infrastructures are ill-equipped to support these new objectives. Thus, IT teams are being asked to find ways of adapting networks to enable new business models and create today’s agile businesses.

Dominic Wilde, vice president, Global Product Line Management, HP Networking, explains that, traditionally, perception has been that the network doesn’t deliver the value required for additional investment – that the network merely enables connectivity. It’s the old “dumb pipe” theory that continues to threaten service providers that fail to adapt, and now has created a similar scenario in the enterprise world.

The conscious IT leader has recognized the opportunity for a new level of discussion around network investment that will help create new lines of revenue, identify new opportunities to differentiate among competitors, and to ultimately monetize networks, while also building simplicity into network infrastructure and management.

For HP, it is the continuation of a conversation it started back in 2007 around the benefits of SDN as a way to not only simplifying and driving new value into networks, but also future-proofing them against further global trends.

This week, furthering its investment in SDN-enabled networks, HP is adding to its existing SDN portfolio of controllers, switches and routers, an app store, and partner ecosystem, with several new products designed to allow enterprises to more rapidly evolve their networks and bring them in line with next-gen business models.

The new lineup includes:

  • HP300 series access points, specifically designed for cloud management within distributed organizations. A key element to the line is the ability to keep a local wireless network functional in the event connectivity to the cloud management service is severed, ensuring business continuity even with a service outage.
  • HP560 line of APs, boasting three times the speed of their wireless-N counterparts. They are Open Flow/SDN-enabled and support 27 percent more endpoint clients than alternatives.
  • HP517 Unified Wall Jack, with integrated gigabit ports and 802.11ac router, for easy deployment in areas where wiring is an issue, such as hospitality industry.
  • HP 870 Unified Wired-WLAN Appliance bridges the gap between wired and wireless networks, simplifying management and access, while reducing costs. It supports up to 30,000 endpoints, while its lower-end sibling, the 850 supports 10,000 endpoints for smaller enterprises.
  • Further assisting with mobility programs – and specifically to support the popular BYOD movement – HP has partnered with Citrix and MobileIron to add MDM features to its existing mobility solution introduced last year.

In addition, HP has also developed three SDN applications, which Wilde says are the start of a broad range of potential services that will be launched as SDN adoption grows. Its Network Optimizer is essentially a UC&C app specifically designed to enhance voice quality with Lync. Wilde says with the new app, Lync users will experience significantly higher quality in their Lync sessions thanks to session-specific communication between the network and the Lync server.

HP’s new security app, Network Protector, effectively identifies dangerous URLs by collecting information from every DNS request, looking up the specified URL, and assigning a score that determines whether the request is allowed to proceed or is rejected.

Perhaps most the most interesting in terms of potential use cases, is a location-aware SDN app that is still in the prototype phase, but allows identification of mobile devices with accuracy of 1-2 meters within a network area. The Smart Shopper app holds significant potential for enabling customer-specific information, offers, and assistance when tied into back-end big data analytics capabilities in conjunction with the real-time responsiveness of SDN-enabled networks.

Lastly, because SDN is just in its infancy with few real successes to call upon for education, HP has also added a Technical Services team that is tasked with helping enterprises create and navigate their SDN roadmaps, including goals and specific action items designed to aid the migration to SDN while aligning technology goals with business objectives.

While this all seems like a lot, it’s merely a drop in the bucket when considering the promise of SDN, the full reality of which is still at least a few years off. But HP is taking this new challenge head on, and for good reason.

“SDN is the most significant and disruptive thing to happen to the network since the development of Ethernet,” concludes Wilde.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Group Editorial Director

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