HP Launches Second-Gen Campus Network Switches with SDN Capabilities

Positions OpenFlow-enabled 5400R zl2 toe-to-toe with Cisco’s 4500 series

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

June 25, 2014

2 Min Read
HP Launches Second-Gen Campus Network Switches with SDN Capabilities
HP’s new campus switches come as six-slot chassis (4RU high) and 12-slot chassis (7RU high). The 12-slot version is pictured here. (Photo: HP)

Anticipating demand from customers who are upgrading their campus networks to accommodate wireless technology, workforce mobility and much higher bandwidths, HP launched the second version of its 5400 zl OpenFlow switch series called 5400R zl2.

Like its predecessor, the new switch supports the popular software defined networking protocol OpenFlow, but handles much higher bandwidths, provides lower latency and unifies wired and wireless policy in the vendor’s network management software.

HP is going after customers who are upgrading their campus networks from 1 Gigabit Ethernet to 10GbE, with an eye on future support for 40GbE, Steve Brar, global product marketing manager for HP Networking, said. While global Ethernet switch sales have been flat compared to last year, be they data center or campus core switches, 10GbE and 40GbE products have been the sole growth engines in the market, according to IDC.

“This is definitely targeted at campuses who are transforming their networks,” Brar said.

HP is competing with all the usual suspects in this space, including Dell, Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent, positioning 5400R zl2 as an alternative to a product by the heaviest of the heavyweights – Cisco. According to Brar, the switch moves three times more packets per second at lower latency than the San Jose, California-based giant’s comparable Catalyst 4500 series switches.

Growing SDN capabilities

HP’s previous-generation 5400 zl switches, the company’s first to support OpenFlow, were quite successful. The vendor launched the product line in 2007 (then part of its ProCurve family), but added OpenFlow support in 2012.

About 10,000 customers have deployed about 20 million ports of 5400 zl network capacity, Brar said. The new generation is compatible with the predecessor.

The company has been fleshing out its SDN strategy since 2012, and as it continues to do so the amount of things its OpenFlow-enabled gear can do will only grow.

At the moment, HP is offering two major SDN applications for 5400R zl2. One of them is Network Protector, a security app that runs on its Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller, launched last year.

Via OpenFlow, the app programs the switch to forward DNS traffic coming from wireless devices on the network to the controller, where the website the user is trying to access gets vetted, Brar explained. If the Protector decides that the site’s reputation isn’t up to snuff, the user cannot access it.

The other SDN app is Network Optimizer for Microsoft Lync, a video conferencing and instant messaging application. Dynamically and automatically, the application configures the network according to policy, setting quality of service for each Lync call as it takes place.

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