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HP ProCurve recruits allies for war on Cisco

RebelProCurve Alliance promises interoperability testing and joint promos

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HP ProCurve has announced an alliance scheme to take on Cisco, and signed up its first four allies, namely Mitel, AirWave Wireless, DVTel and ShoreTel.

The companies will work together to test and promote each others' gear, said ProCurve's EMEA solutions boss Gejs Zantvoort. He said that while it's not joint sales, it will enable the partners to propose verified and standards-based alternatives to Cisco in key areas where buyers need more than just a LAN infrastructure.

Mitel and ShoreTel will contribute IP telephony equipment and skills, AirWave will supply management tools for wireless networks, and DVTel will be ProCurve's partner for IP-based physical security and video systems - IP security is one of Cisco's 'emerging technologies' so this is clearly the #2 networking vendor saying to the #1, 'Anything you can do...'

"We are not an end-to-end vendor like Cisco, we focus on best-in-class Ethernet infrastructure, but our customers need services and solutions too," said Zantvoort. "So now we are saying to third parties, you give us equipment and keep us up to date with it, and we will test and document it. We will also open it up to the channel, support-wise."

There are three levels to the ProCurve Alliance. Mitel and AirWave are on the top one, where they will also get ProCurve gear into their labs and use it to test their equipment, while DVTel and ShoreTel are on the middle rung which is interoperability testing and documentation by ProCurve. Zantvoort said there will also be a basic testing tier below this.

Top tier partners are seen as strategic, and will do joint promotion, he said: "Our sales reps will be able to say 'We have tested this, and we'll get our colleagues in.' I would call it joint marketing, but not joint selling."

For the smaller partners, this looks like a big win, as DVTel's COO Paul Smith acknowledged.

"By aligning with a trusted and recognised brand such as ProCurve, we are able to offer a complete networking solution to the industry, with greatly reduced risk for our end users," he declared. "Customers can buy with confidence, knowing that we have completed testing with ProCurve products to develop an interoperable solution."

For the larger ones, the picture will be more complex – Mitel also has a strategic partnership with Foundry Networks, for example. Coincidentally, this too delivers 'best of breed' converged comms, thanks to 'extensive interoperability and solutions testing', according to Mitel. Odd, that.

Still, for all these companies the main target is clearly Cisco, and Zantvoort added that these partners are just the first. He said ProCurve is now looking for more, with a preference for regional and world-wide players over national ones.

"We are just starting here," he said. "There is more to come on security and on management - we will look at what building blocks are needed, at what partners make sense and at who we already have a good chemistry with."®

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