HP is pushing to win over Cisco's business partners with networking solutions from new acquisiton 3Com, like this 4800G Gigabit switching unit.  (Source: HP)
Company also claims that its costs are 30 to 50 percent lower, and its products 70 percent more energy efficient

HP and IBM are currently the top producers of business servers.  However, with its $2.7B USD acquisition of 3COM, a leading networking solutions provider, HP is looking to step up its all-around networking solutions efforts, challenging Cisco in the arena of networking hardware and software.

The key to its efforts, HP says, is that its new networking solutions, which offer 50 percent better performance than Cisco's at 30 to 50 percent cost (we're guessing Cisco would disagree).  HP also accuses Cisco of maintaining a massive 80 percent profit margin (this would perhaps be less surprising; some electronics companies approach this big a margin, including Apple).

HP was showcasing its networking wares at the Everything Channel's VAR500-CIO50 Conference in New York on Tuesday (VAR stands for Value Added Reseller).  It was talking up executives atDimension Data, Worldwide Technology, Presidio and CompuCom, some of Cisco's biggest VAR customers.

The company has also been courting the top 10 systems integrators and top 10 carriers in the country.  And it's also approached many small to midsize businesses (SMBs) about its smaller scale networking solutions.

Armughan Ahmad, who helped build out the 3Com enterprise networking channel, has been named as HP's new vice president, Americas Channel Sales, HP Networking.  He's playing the role of chief evangelist for the HP's efforts, stating, "[Our products offer] twice the performance, 50 percent less energy usage, are 35 to 50 percent less expensive and are easier to manage [than Cisco's].  We have the full gamut of networking products.  My message is 'let's go win some deals together."

HP's efforts will culminate at the HP TechForum 2010 in Las Vegas June 21 - 24, where it aims to certify a bunch of partners on its new products.

HP may be well positioned to make a move in this market.  Its business uses "merchant silicon" rather than the ASIC-based technology.  It is open standards-based and is easier to gain supplies of than ASIC solutions, says HP.  Cisco suffered supply shortages through much of last year, that hurt the company.  Ahmad boast that merchant silicon is giving his company a 70 percent energy efficiency edge over Cisco in comparable products.  HP is not alone in supporting the movement to merchant silicon -- Sun is also betting big on this direction.

The aggressive approach may be paying off.  One unnamed executive in a 
CRN report remarked, "We're more committed to HP than any other vendor.  They have changed how they work with us. We used to fight each other on the hardware side of the business. Now we go in hand in hand. We have a deep relationship and they care."

The executive refuses to go exclusive with either Cisco or HP, though, stating, "This is still a customer-driven business.  If they ask us to choose we all lose."

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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