HP blades led the charge. HP says it has shipped 5 million blade switch ports, and 31 percent of 10G ports shipped in Q2 were from blades, while uplink ports on Gigabit Ethernet switches accounted for 15 percent, Dell'Oro says.
The company could use that kind of momentum in the core too, analysts say. Forrester Research's Andre Kindness says he hasn't detected any traction of HP's 3Com switches in production within the core or data center. He acknowledges, though, that he hasn't had any contact with enterprises or Forrester clients in China.
"There really hasn't been any new (3Com inherited) products in two years," says Andre Kindness of Forrester Research. "In the data center, companies are looking for leadership (in switching). They're seeing it from Juniper and Cisco; I just don't think they're seeing it from HP at this point."
Kindness makes a case for HP divesting its network hardware business and focusing on virtual networking through software and a more cohesive, comprehensive strategy.
Without breaking out revenue by specific product, HP says A12500 sales have experienced 200 percent year-over-year growth, and that core revenue is growing faster than edge revenue. HP also says sales of the A7500 are strong.
"We have a marketshare leadership position in China, which is one of the fastest growing markets in the world," Mayer says. "That is a lot of data centers, frankly. We grew the (overall HP Networking) business 15 percent this past quarter and took share from Cisco in switches and routing."
Mayer says HP Networking has realized seven consecutive quarters of growth even though Dell'Oro shows some lumpiness in those numbers: 6.3 percent market share in the fourth quarter of 2009 dropping to 5.6 percent in the following quarter, growing to 10 percent in the second quarter of 2010 after closing the 3Com acquisition, and then dropping slightly to 9.8 percent in Q3 and 9.9 percent in Q4, and bouncing back to 11.2 percent and 11.1 percent in the first two quarters of this year, respectively.
"When other folks lost share and lost revenue, we gained revenue," Mayer says. "Overall, the business is doing very well."
HP plans to continue to upgrade the A12500 with additional software features and higher densities.
"We're looking for something a bit more creative than just another switch," Gillai says. "If you think about Virtual Connect and some of the things we do looking at the whole problem, not just the switching domain, our next big boxes are going to enable more of that. More disruptive than just another switch."
The data center is still in a state of flux so HP still has time to become a stronger player in switching, analysts say. But it needs to show that it, too, is keeping up with the Ciscos, IBMs, Brocades, Junipers and Dells of the industry.
"I think HP needs patience here," says Oltsik. "There are a lot of upcoming data center networking transitions -- convergence, tier elimination, fabric, software-enablement, etc. So HP should have lots of opportunities moving forward. HP needs to build on what it has and make changes as the market develops. This is an evolutionary change that will happen over time."
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.