HP declared its intention to fight a long war against Cisco today, when it unwrapped its 8200zl series core switch units and promise a lifetime hardware warranty on the new kit. HP’s networking operation, Procurve has been well-established as a edge switch supplier for some time, holding a grip on second place to Cisco in the …
All well and good...
...but I bet it still misses out half the features that long time customers have been asking for and that would make their kit really useful. Like q-in-q and IPv6.
Support and docs needed
So, compare Procurve to Cisco on documentation and support - no contest. There's a real shortage of good docs - a single, comprehensive doc with the entire command set, updated for each new revision would be a big plus. Never mind serious training or even (*gasp*) a third-party book. Cisco manages to do comprehensive docs for its equipment. I have a hard time seeing Procurve as a serious alternative in a critical core switch / data center role until they actually step up and provide enterprise level support. Edge? Sure. Consolidating connections in a big building with something like a 5400? You bet. Beyond that? I can say we'll just wait to see what they do, and we're already using Procurve edge switches.
There is a lot to "core" besides wizzy specs ans warranties
In order to compete with Cisco in the core Procurve has to lear a few more things. Last time I had a look at it, it lacked basic understanding of what core means.
Core network devices in the real world are not configured by a human. They are usually configured by systems. HP in its infinite wisdom has removed all of the features for it - you can neither turn the data on the terminal into row mode, nor disable paging on the output. As a result most deployment and configuration control agents (especially the ones written inhouse) do not work reliably with their kit.
Small to medium shop IT device - maybe. Core device - you have to had a lot of whalesong brainwashing to agree to that one.
Procurve has always had lifetime warranty
I was buying Procurve kit back in the late 90s and it had a lifetime warranty then. Never had to call on it...
As SME and edge kit, I would use HP but not sure I would trust it in the core of a meaty network...
CLI reference guide
The CLI reference guide for the 3500yl, 6200yl, 5400zl series switches is on the ProCurve website at http://www.hp.com/rnd/support/manuals/5400zl.htm