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In September, Hewlett-Packard dumped Cisco-branded LAN and WAN switches from its data centers, and now, it wants Cisco shops to do the same thing.

Of course, HP pays cost for its own A Series switches and routers (the data center-class products that came from the 3Com acquisition) and the E Series products (which used to be branded with the ProCurve moniker and which herald from the HP side of the HP Networking business unit). Cisco shops can't hope to get a deal like that.

To try to scare up some customers, HP has launched a promotion called "A Catalyst for Change," playing on the name of its networking rival's flagship products, and HP is giving customers who trade-in selected Cisco products a 20 per cent discount off the list price (above and beyond whatever deals they have) if they trade in Cisco Catalyst or Nexus end-of-row and top-of-rack switches. The deal, as you can see from this announcement, applies to trade-ins of Cisco's Nexus 5000 and 7000 switches (these are the ones that converge storage and server traffic onto the same switch) and Catalyst 2960/S, 3560/E, 3750/E, 4500/E, 4900, and 6500 series of switches. To get the discount, customers can buy any one of 22 different A Series or E Series switches from HP.

If you read the fine print, which you can see here, customers have to spend at least $100,000 on HP Networking gear (including CarePack support contracts) and the deal is only available in the United States. Sales of the networking gear receiving the discount cannot be for used or leased HP equipment, and HP says that the trade-in discount cannot be combined with any other offer, rebate, discount, or promotion. (If you believe that, I have a bridge here that connects Manhattan to the Bronx that I want to sell you. It's much cheaper than the Brooklyn Bridge, obviously.)

HP says further that the products that will eventually end up in the hands of the HP Financial Services arm have to be working, and presumably it will sell them out on the second-hand equipment market to recoup some or all of the money HP has given as a trade-in discount on the new gear.

Customers outside of the United States that are buying HP's top-end A Series and E Series switches should demand the exact same deal that those within the country are getting. Moreover, before accepting HP's offer, if you are thinking about dumping Cisco gear for HP iron, you should scout around for some second-hand network equipment dealers and see if cutting out the HP middleman makes sense. Cisco products presumably hold value pretty well, and you might get more money selling the Cisco iron yourself. The lazy man's way of accomplishing the same thing would be to demand a 40 per cent discount on new HP A Series or E Series gear and let HP do whatever it wants with the Cisco iron. ®

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