HP Ships Switches with QoS

Following in the footsteps of the networking giants, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HP ProCurve Networking division is now shipping quality of service (QoS) technology along with its line of switches.

Although QoS is new to HP’s line, it is not new to most networking companies, such as Cisco Systems Inc., 3Com Corp., Nortel Networks Inc., and Lucent Technologies.

HP’s solution, however, is free with its switches and has a few features that its competitors’ QoS offerings do not.

"We are bringing together a number of technologies that, when looked at as a whole, constitute an overall QoS solution," says Brice Clark, the strategic planning manager of HP ProCurve networking.

HP’s strategy for delivering QoS has four elements: putting in plenty of bandwidth, not wasting bandwidth, protecting certain types of data, and bandwidth reservation.

To fulfill this strategy, the company is offering HP QoS, Web QoS, TopTools, and features of the switches that enable packet prioritization.

QoS technology ensures the priority of business-critical applications and servers and allows businesses to streamline their networks by delivering consistent service.

Web QoS is designed to handle the increased use of Internet and intranet applications in the LAN and to help administrators make sure their networks perform well and are highly available.

HP TopTools for Hubs & Switches lets network administrators configure QoS features for HP ProCurve switches. This software permits policy-based reconfiguration of HP ProCurve switches, thus enabling administrators to bypass the usual means of manually reconfiguring each switch.

The ProCurve QoS-enabled Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches contain features to streamline traffic from Web servers, clients, application servers, and database servers by automatically mapping Layer 3 prioritization techniques within HP WebQoS to 802.1p prioritization.

The HP ProCurve 10/100 Switches 8000M, 4000M, 1600M, and 2424M have implemented HP WebQoS compatibility for network management that defines and monitors policies. Business managers now can easily leverage network QoS for their mission-critical transactions and applications.

Additionally, free class of service (CoS) and port-security features in HP ProCurve Networking Layer 2 switches ensure secure network performance for mission-critical applications and servers.

HP claims that its QoS features provide more to customers than its competitors’ solutions, but John Armstrong, an analyst with Dataquest (www.dataquest.com), says there are all kinds of levels of QoS, which differ based on how thorough they are.

"As we move up the time line, vendors are getting better at offering QoS," he says. "HP’s is a very current, new generation of technology that allows [HP] to cover a lot of bases that other vendors haven’t been able to."

But Armstrong points out that this market is evolving quickly, so all vendors will likely continue enhancing QoS offerings.

HP, for its part, has plans to help customers monitor QoS and make suggestions as to how users can more efficiently use QoS.

As to when that will be, HP’s Clark wouldn’t say.

"We have the information inside switches today, and we are working on a way to report it to administrators from a QoS perspective, rather than from a raw traffic perspective," he says.