In providing his overview of last week’s Interop event in Las Vegas, Jon Oltsik of the Enterprise Strategy Group makes an interesting observation:
It was very telling to see HP with a large booth in prime Interop real estate near the show floor entrance. The HP ProCurve networking division has always been the company’s best kept secret. Looks like the cat is out of the bag now–HP could be a candidate to challenge Cisco’s enterprise dominance in the next few years.
I’m not sure what to make of the heightened profile HP has been giving its ProCurve networking division. It could indicate that the company is making a serious investment to ProCurve’s success, or it could signal that ProCurve is for sale again. HP has come close to selling ProCurve in the past, and I’ve heard recent rumblings about ProCurve being on the sales block.
If ProCurve is for sale, which companies would be among prospective buyers? Even though I’m sure they’d make a hash of it, Nortel probably is in the mix, with Juniper also representing a possible buyer. The private-equity players — Francisco Partners had discussions with HP regarding ProCurve once upon a time — are sidelined by currently grim business conditions.
A potentially complicating factor is that Extreme Networks and 3Com appear to be on the market. As much as Cisco might look vulnerable to enterprise competition, it’s sobering to see how many companies have utterly failed in their bids to take market share and sustenance from Cisco in enterprise networking.