For Marius Haas, 2010 was a good year. As senior vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard's networking business, Haas saw his unit gain a lot more muscie in April, when HP closed on its high-profile $2.7 billion purchase of 3Com, an acquisition that put the company in even tighter competition with Cisco Systems.
HP has been increasingly flexing that muscle as it looks to make itself a clear alternative to Cisco in the data center networking space, and Haas believes the opportunity is out there. In an interview with eWEEK, Haas estimated that there is at least $9 billion worth of business that is opening up as businesses see their Cisco systems coming to the end of the line in 2011. HP is pitching itself as the lower cost, higher performance, more open option to Cisco.
"This basically single-vendor-dominated environment is not conducive to choice, and that is an opportunity for HP," he said.
The 3Com deal was only one in a series of moves that has turned one-time close partners HP and Cisco into intense rivals. Fueling the competition has been the push by vendors -- not only HP and Cisco, but others, such as Dell, IBM and Oracle -- to offer converged data center solutions that tightly integrate servers, storage devices, networking equipment and management software in highly virtualized environments. Cisco entered this realm ealier last year with the introduction of its UCS (Unified Computing System), which not only included Cisco networking but also Cisco-branded servers. HP's deal with 3Com upped the ante.