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HP ProCurve Jumps Into The Firewall Market

Hewlett-Packard’s ambition to offer under-one-roof network security starts with ProCurve Firewall, putting HP head to head with other security vendors.

The pantheon of major security players includes the likes of Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, IBM, Symantec, McAfee and even Microsoft. Missing among the noted is Hewlett-Packard, which has fielded security products over the years, but not with a concerted enough effort to stake out a piece of the security market.

That’s changing, rapidly. HP has just unveiled its first firewall/intrusion prevention appliance based on ProCurve 8212 and 5400 Series switches. The new hardware introduction is a milestone in the HP goal of not only establishing a significant security presence, but also marks a significant step in its efforts to disrupt the entire security and IT infrastructure marketplace.

“We’re a new kind of security player that reduces the gaps and reduces the complexity of security,” says Chris Whitener, HP’s chief security strategist. “You’d really have to bolt together IBM, Dell and EMC to get the breadth of HP. We are the first horizontal security player.”

The ProCurve firewall launch marks HP’s most significant thrust into the security market and channels. Whitener and other HP executives say the company has plans for creating both an in-house set of security products and capabilities, as well as an ecosystem of OEM partner products and services that it and reseller partners can deliver to market.

“This is a massive opportunity,” Whitener says. “We will work with VARs (value added resellers) and channel partners in this space, in how these offerings are built and packaged for the channel, and show how they are different and will benefit our customers.”

HP has not been devoid of security products or services. Its OpenView management system has long been a choice application for developers of security applications and integrators, for administrating and reporting on network security activity. It’s also developed and integrated a number of security applications and features into its PC, server and printing portfolio. Beginning a year ago, however, it embarked on a strategy to develop its security and product offerings into a more holistic portfolio.

One of the first signs of HP’s greater security ambitions came two weeks ago when it launched three new security software and service products as part of its Security Applications Center. Probably the most significant of this initial thrust is WebInspect 8.0, an enhancement of its code testing tool that’s been augmented with technology gained through HP’s 2007 acquisition of SPI Dynamics. WebInspect is used to test the security and reliability of Web 2.0 applications. Additionally, HP launched Assessment Management Platform 8.0, which is a distributed Web application security testing platform.

At the beginning of the month, HP announced a major alliance with McAfee to resell the security vendor’s entire portfolio of security products and services to HP’s business customers. This means HP is able to bundle everything from McAfee’s enterprise malware protection applications to its sophisticated risk management platforms, into packages with ProCurve networking gear and Proliant servers. More significant are HP’s plans to integrate the McAfee relationship with consulting and managed services delivered by its recently purchased Electronic Data Systems (EDS) services organisation.