HP mimics Cisco with edge strategy

HP mimics Cisco with edge strategy

Taking a page from Cisco Systems’ playbook, Hewlett-Packard has introduced a network planning and design blueprint for enterprise customers.

Dubbed Adaptive EDGE Architecture, HP’s strategy conjures memories of Cisco Systems’ successful Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) that was introduced in September 2000. Like AVVID, HP’s strategy defines a single network that is a multi-service which runs voice, data, and video.

HP’s new design also preaches security and mobility and focuses on the use of network applications such as VoIP (voice over IP).

Director of HP’s ProCurve Networking business, Brice Clark, said: “Enterprises want to add more intelligence to the edge of their networks to manage security and deploy new applications. Networks today are supporting a broader range of data, not just databases.”

Under the strategy, a network could be secured and a user’s access to network services and resources could be personalised all the way from the device where a PC or other client device meets the network, HP said. Companies also would be able to prioritise voice conversations and video sessions across the network using HP edge switches that could recognise types of traffic that need special treatment.

This kind of capability was traditionally located on relatively expensive devices at the core of a LAN, Clark said. HP wanted to let companies easily define network rules and enforce them on affordable hardware.

“It’s almost an inside-out reversal of how we’ve thought about networks traditionally,” Clark said.

Two key pieces of the strategy are RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) technology for authenticating users and the IEEE 802.1x standard for port-based access control.

A central database will provide the brains in the architecture, holding information about what groups the user belongs to and what resources he or she should be able to access. When a user logs in to the network, the switch will get information from the central database. It is then translated into specific network commands that the switch uses to configure the port.

HP already offers an AAA (authentication, authorisation, and accounting) server that can be used for these profiles, but the information could also be attached to an Oracle human resources database, Clark said. This may make it easier to change an employee’s privileges upon hiring, transfer, or resignation.

The system could be implemented on many different kinds of databases as long as they support RADIUS and 802.1x, he said.

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