HP Networking Opts for Roadmap Expediency

Despite HP’s protestations to the contrary, overlaps exist between its erstwhile HP ProCurve switching portfolio and some of the products the company has obtained through its acquisition of 3Com.

Still, as Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi observed astutely, HP doesn’t gain anything by alienating its native or inherited installed bases of customers by telling them the products they bought or are considering for purchase are destined for oblivion. As such, the official word from HP, is “anything that’s offered today will be offered as long as customers want it and want to buy it.”

Those were the words of Dave Donatelli, the executive vice president and general manager of HP’s enterprise servers, storage and networking division (ESSN). He meant them, too, at least until further notice.

HP Networking is trying hard to portray itself as the vendor who will keep Cisco honest by giving enterprise customers a viable competitive alternative to (and pricing leverage against) the data-networking superpower. It doesn’t want to spoil that effect by creatively destroying its own product portfolio immediately after the acquisition of 3Com has become official.

No, there’s plenty of time for the axe to fall on redundant products, and HP would rather that sort of thing occur beyond the range of prying eyes. Those matters are deal with discreetly, quietly, not at ebullient press conferences.

Besides, with a Citigroup survey of American and European CIOs suggesting that networking gear is a top priority for enterprise IT expenditures, HP is particularly disinclined to inhibit near-term customer demand. As Larry Dignan writes at ZDNet:

Indeed, 44 percent of CIOs expect to spend more money with Cisco. Just 16 percent of CIOs planned to increase spending on HP ProCurve gear. Citi analysts noted that CIOs may have been waiting to see HP’s 3Com integration plans.

The timing clearly isn’t right for a product and engineering cull at the shop formerly known at HP ProCurve. Nonetheless, one can reasonably deduce that when the organizational restructuring does come down, 3Com’s gear and personnel are likely to fare better in the aftermath.

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