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Cisco doesn’t usually weigh in on rumor, speculation, or just plain nonsense, but we simply had to address some blatantly misleading information that HP has been sharing with customers and reporters in the wake of Cisco’s industry-changing Catalyst 6500 announcement of earlier this week.  I’m a big fan of Dragnet, so in the style of Detective Sergeant Joe Friday, let’s talk about “Just the facts”:

First, Cisco emphatically stands behind the claim of 3x the performance at 1/3 the price when you compare a simple upgrade of Catalyst 6500 versus HP’s A9500.  HP is suggesting we should instead be comparing the Catalyst 6500 against their replacement platform, the A10500.  We’re perfectly happy to do this but we found it’s really hard to do a comparison with a product that doesn’t yet exist.  Don’t believe us?  Go look at the HP web site.  You won’t find any details to support HP’s claims.  Yes, HP did ‘launch’ the A10500 in May, but it still hasn’t been posted to their configuration tool, nor does it appear anywhere on their networking product pages.  So is the A10500 real, or is it just marketing until it gets off the factory floor?

Second, HP’s claim that the E-Series has only been around for months is incorrect.  The Catalyst 6500 E-Series has been in the market for seven years and is in 80 percent of our installed base customer networks.  80 percent!  So, for 80 percent of our customers, migrating to the Sup2T really is as simple as a $38,000 list price upgrade.  That’s all it takes to get that 3x performance increase, 4x scalability boost, and access to over 200 new software features.  Investment protection has always been a key criterion for Cisco and its customers.

Third, HP is incorrect in suggesting a line card upgrade is required in order to use VSS.  In the spirit of simplicity the uplinks on the supervisor are capable of forming VSL links for a complete Virtual Switching System.

Fourth, HP seems intent on pitching the Catalyst 6500 as a “decade old Cisco platform.”  Well, here’s one thing we can all agree on.  A technology platform with a decade long record of outstanding service. Isn’t that incredible?  It really is the “workhorse” of the industry, but let’s not forget that during that decade – a decade of continual innovation – the Catalyst 6500 also picked up more than 500 patents and achieved a myriad number of records and technology firsts.

And in case you’re wondering whether Cisco will follow in HP’s footsteps by not actually delivering a product that was announced months ago, let’s talk about the availability of the Catalyst 6500 Sup2T: Cisco announced the new Catalyst 6500 on July 12th.  It became orderable on July 12th, and began shipping volume only 48 hours later on July 14th.  That’s exactly the type of reliable networking customers need.  Hollow promises are not “good enough,” HP.

Fifth, I have to hand it to Chad Berndston at CRN for his diligent reporting.  Finally someone takes the time to do a little background check on HP’s share claims.  As Alan Weckel from Dell’Oro put it in Chad’s article, nobody measures market share gains on a quarterly basis.  Alan confirmed that “networking market share should be evaluated over a three-year period instead of quarter-by-quarter comparisons.”   He goes on to say that HP’s share claims are simply “misleading.”

As a final note, if there is still anyone wondering whether the Catalyst 6500 is too good to be true, it would be remiss of me not to point out that the Catalyst 6500 Sup2T provided the backbone of the Cisco Live network in Las Vegas.  That’s 15,000 live attendees at Cisco Live and over 40,000 virtual attendees. How’s that for a reality check!

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13 Comments.


  1. Excellent, really excellent scott.. We were just hoping Cisco gives back a reply to HP and not take it lying down as always been the case. Really proud that you did it. If this article can be posted in sites like Network World or Light reading as a rebuttal to HP, guys like me would be happy! I will be happy to give this link or paste this article in Comments section of HP article against Cisco, if it’s ok to..

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  2. Scott,

    Great reporting. Sup 2T did a great job at Cisco Live. I was there in person to see it and the launch. Also before someone else gets cranky … the service interruption was not Sup 2T related.

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  3. Excellent report, Welcome to the new Cisco

       0 likes

  4. Very well motivated response to the HP guys.
    The catalyst 6500 is simply a reliable peace of networking technology.

       0 likes

  5. Good inetative we should respond to Hp like this for all the rumors.

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  6. Great post.HP is not playing nice at all.it is better that they just sell their printer and ink.the NETWORKWORLD.COM have an intersting post about the new SUP-2T (http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/76363) and it is just interesting how the HP marking guys post un-fair , misleading info about Cisco C6500.they calim the HP-A10500/9500 support service modules , but checking HP website only show that only HP E5400zl/E8400zl support them (with 1.1/1 Tbps throughput).what they call them SERVICE MODULES , is “HP AllianceONE Services zl Module” that is a card with CPU-MEM-DISK that can run other application from HP partner like MACAFEE.there is no specific ASIC/FPGA/Hardware accelerator as you see in Cisco Servie modules.that is just equivalent to what Cisco offered on the ISR-G2 for Branch routers , not for Multi-gigabit traffic.

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  7. Sandra Wheatley

    Very nicely articulated. Let’s stick to the facts.

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  8. Great Post! I might add that Catalyst 6500 VSS is much more mature, flexible, reliable & scalable compared with HP’s IRF (which is a reverse-engineered knock-off)…

    Everyone should watch Padmasree Warrior’s LIVE VIDEO DEMO comparing VSS & IRF, in the face of catastrophic failure of a “Virtual Switch” core device.

    http://blogs.cisco.com/channels/padmasree-warrior-at-cisco-live-cisco-next-generation-networks-are-critical-in-driving-innovation/

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  9. Juan David Duarte

    Great Post!!!, it is great to know the real facts of the misleading info shown by HP.

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  10. Nothing but the facts. Thanks for the crediblity check, Scott.

    * It’s not rocket science: Take a market-share leading customer base, enable those customers to simply migrate to 3X performance – 4X Scale – 200+ features.
    * It’s just phenomenal.

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  11. Very interesting article, lol. Read something similar to this a few weeks ago actually. A lot to learn for myself upcoming in the Cisco world =p

       0 likes

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