HP Networking's Haas Aims at Simplicity

Marius Haas, senior vice president and general manager of HP Networking, has had a good year. In 2010, Hewlett-Packard closed its acquisition of 3Com, dramatically expanding its networking portfolio and sales, and also continued to log progress with its own LAN products. In the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Oct. 31, HP's networking revenue grew 227 percent with the former 3Com portfolio included. Even without the new offerings, sales grew 50 percent from a year earlier. This week, Haas took time to talk with IDG News Service about that growth and the company's vision for networking.

IDGNS -- What sort of traction are you seeing now that 3Com is fully integrated into HP?

HAAS -- We've seen sequential share gain in every area where we compete: wireless, core switching, core routing -- and well over 458 of our top 1,000 accounts have already initiated proof-of-concepts with us, where they've taken the product, and they're evaluating the product, we're working with them on it, on defining a potential architecture solution for them.

IDGNS -- In the integration process, have you been able to retain all of the 3Com and HP products?

HAAS -- We announced zero end-of-life products when we rolled out our consolidated road maps for customers. As long as the customer wants the product, we're going to support it and offer it, and thus far we've had very good response from it.

IDGNS -- Tell me about the role of networking in HP today.

HAAS -- I've been in this role roughly two-and-a-half years, and one of the mandates I had before taking this role was to make sure it was part of mainstream HP. Prior to that, I was head of strategy and of corporate development for the company and saw this as probably one of our biggest opportunities to generate shareholder value and also really transform an industry.

My peers are the guys who run the server group and the guys and the gals who run the storage group. So as we present a total solution for customers on servers, storage, and networking, it is no longer a side business.

IDGNS -- What have you gained so far, and what do you expect in the future, from the former 3Com development center in China?

HAAS -- For any enterprise out there, both big and small, we have the best products, that are the easiest to manage, that have lower power consumption, that are more secure, and at a much lower total cost of ownership.

How is that sustainable? It's sustainable because we've now got a development engine that is extremely impressive, very quick to scale, and best in class in talent. So we think we've got the right onshore-offshore model, and we know we're industry-leading when you look at benchmarks about efficiency and productivity, and that is core to what makes us a competitor.

IDGNS -- Cisco Systems has talked for years about building a lot of intelligence into the network. How much intelligence needs to be brought into networks?

HAAS -- Customers are telling us that one of the reasons why the cost of managing and deploying networking infrastructure hadn't changed over the years was because a competitor that held a majority position in the market just kept adding, adding, adding more features without lowering their cost, and many of these features were features the customer never used. We will deploy for you exactly what you need, and then we're going to translate that to you in business value that you won't get anywhere else.

What we're offering from a technology standpoint that differentiates [us] is, yes, significant intelligence, but intelligence that enables customers to deploy the network fabric and network architecture in much simpler ways. For example, we've got one management solution end to end. It is all one code base, so it's not multiple examples of IOS [Cisco's Internetwork Operating System], as an example. We've got Intelligent Resilient Framework technology, which allows you to do clustering and virtualization of multiple core switching boxes [and] allows you to have leading-edge performance and leading-edge bandwidth access.

The other thing we're doing is, we're flattening the architecture to much more of a two-layer model, versus a Cisco traditional three-layer model, which lowers your latency and improves performance and bandwidth access across the board, and have the ability to provision devices on the fly, versus what historically has taken days, weeks and months, depending on the environment you have.

IDGNS -- HP is now in fairly close competition with a wide range of companies, including Oracle, IBM and Dell, as well as Cisco, in delivering all the elements of a data center. How has that affected HP's ability to sell its products through the services channels of these competitors?

HAAS -- We have seen no degradation of our ability to get solutions and technology to our customers.

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