HP claims edge over Cisco with next-gen switches

Company claims better performance and energy efficiency in new E-Series zl switches

Taking clear aim at networking giant Cisco, HP today claimed that its new line of E-Series zl modules aren't just the first devices on the market based on the IEEE's new Energy Efficient Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3az). The company also boasted that the hardware runs circles around Cisco's Catalyst line.

HP has made an obvious effort of late to highlight the fruits of its 3Com acquisition and to grab at market share from Cisco. For example, the company brashly declared it was removing all signs of Cisco gear from a recent, large-scale data centers consolidation project.

Leveraging the IEEE 802.3az standard, HP's new switches are capable of automatically entering "sleep mode" when now network traffic is being transmitted; connected EEE devices will do the same. That combination can result in a 51 percent reduction in operating costs, according to HP.

To demonstrate the reduction in power consumption, HP commissioned a comparative test between members of its E-Series zl line and several Catalyst switches from Cisco. According to Tolly, which performed the tests, the HP switches consumed as much as 26 percent less power than comparable Cisco switches. However, HP also acknowledged in a phone interview that the new switches are as much as 56 percent more energy efficient than its own previously released ProCurve switches.

Notably, the Tolly report also said HP's new switches outpaced comparable Cisco switches in terms of overall performance, throughput, and latency. According to HP, those factors had nothing to do with the EEE standard; rather, they were a result of improvements the company made under the hood of its modules.

The new modules are designed to work interchangeably with previous 5400 and 8200 models, according to HP, allowing organizations to run E-Series zl modules alongside older models in the same chassis without have to rip and replace.

HP is adding one further enticement to companies to switch to its networking gear: The company is eliminating the license fees for unlocking the full-featured version of its network management software, which start at $4,000.

This article, "HP claims edge over Cisco with next-gen switches," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.