HP ProCurve Execs Aim Colubris at New Markets

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HP ProCurve plans to use its Colubris wireless networking acquisition to attract customers of other vendors, according to ProCurve executives speaking at a meeting to introduce 802.11n access point plus unified network management software.

"Many customers add wireless after wired, and the Colubris overlay architecture allows you to add wireless to any Ethernet network, whether ProCurve or third-party," said Carl Blume, a former Colubris staffer who is now ProCurve's worldwide director of mobility solutions.

"It gives ProCurve a strategy for getting into accounts that are currently occupied by other vendors," he said. "We want to sell Colubris into ProCurve's horizontal markets -- SMBs and enterprises -- and ProCurve into Colubris vertical markets, such as education, service providers, hospitality, health care, manufacturing and transportation."

The two companies are "now fully integrated," even though it is barely six weeks since the acquisition closed on Oct. 1, he said. Hewlett-Packard now manufactures the Colubris MSM (Multi-Service Mobility) hardware, and the two R&D teams are cooperating, Blume added.

ProCurve also extended its lifetime warranty to cover Colubris indoor access points, though not Colubris controllers, which have a one-year warranty.

Blume said that where wireless networks from Cisco, Aruba and Meru route all traffic through a central controller, MSM combines a controller with intelligent access points. Although centrally managed, the MSM access points can then switch data traffic directly over the network edge, reducing the load on the backbone.

The first new wireless product from ProCurve is the MSM410, a single-radio 802.11n Wi-Fi access point priced at 499 Euro, or US$649. Like 11n access points from Trapeze Networks and others, it has no visible antennae and is designed to look nondescript to reduce the risk of theft.

The MSM410 is aimed at customers with "a need for a simpler deployment" and plans to move toward an all-11n environment, Blume said. He added that it will support 11a/b/g clients, but that dual-radio access points would give better performance in mixed environments.

ProCurve has also updated its ProCurve Manager (PCM) software to automatically discover, map and start managing MSM hardware, said EMEA product manager Nick Hancock.

PCM manages both wired and wireless networks in a single tool, with a single set of access policies for each user, he said. "Having two sets of policies to apply increases the risks," he added.

Adding MSM support is just the start -- ProCurve plans to extend PCM to recognize even more network gear, including hardware from third parties, Hancock said. "It gives us routes into -- for example -- Cisco sites on a pure wireless play. We could start by just managing the wireless, then take over managing the wired infrastructure too," he said.

Hancock added that ProCurve will continue to sell its previous Wireless Edge Services system, which features thin access points and a controller blade that fits into a core switch, even though WES does not support 802.11n.

"We do see customers who only want a/b/g, and for them the WES controller is still good," he said.

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