Fightin' words? Maybe. During their keynote address at Interop 2011, HP's Dave Donatelli and Marius Haas discussed HP's networking portfolio, focusing on converged infrastructure and ease of management, and outlined how HP is bringing the future of network fabric to the enterprise by playing nice with other vendors. The two HP execs came out swinging against Cisco Systems, noting how their new products put Cisco's comparable solutions to shame. Read on for HP's perspective on the future and a quick rundown of the new product lineup ...

The keynote opened up with Donatelli, who said the core enterprise networking issue right now is what to do about legacy machine transformation. Essentially, enterprises have a lot of older networking equipment and want a way to transition without completely gutting everything. FlexFabric, FlexCampus and FlexBranch provide that level of interoperability, he said. And while HP wants to be the core of every company's networking backbone, the company also embraces multi-vendor approaches -- and Donatelli even showed a few stats that suggest companies get higher performance when they go after a "best-in-breed" solution instead of a single brand.

Haas then took the stage and introduced HP's new product line, noting one of the key pillars of HP's FlexFabric Networking is to do away with"swivel chair management." Haas outlined limitations such as proprietary protocols that prevent customers from upgrading or making new investments while preserving old ones. The resolution? An open, scalable, secure and consistent experience across all networking devices, he said.

To that end, HP introduced the following:
The VAR Guy couldn't help but notice HP juxtaposed its solution with Cisco's comparable offering nearly every step of the way. HP drove home its point in a slide featuring a full list of the different management products needed to manage Cisco's complete line of networking products, compared with HP's list of one, the HP Intelligent Management Center, which supports 2,600 devices -- 1000 of which are from Cisco -- from 35 different manufacturers. Haas called out Cisco's networking architecture, claiming it's the result of acquisitions, not organic growth, and thus is difficult to converge and manage from a single pane of glass. He even noted customers have told HP that "we manage Cisco better than Cisco."

Haas even had something to say about Cisco's recent reorganization. During a Q&A session following the presentation, Hass said: "You can reorganize, but that doesn't make you more competitive. It doesn't challenge [our] business model. We feel good [about] our performance and solutions provided to customers," concluding by noting HP's trade-in program has been a success.

And as for The VAR Guy's prediction about cloud? HP's stance seems to suggest that cloud computing evolves naturally from the networking infrastructure. HP didn't focus on what exactly the cloud is, but rather what keeps it afloat. The VAR Guy thinks it's a smart approach for HP to focus on being the backbone.

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