HP Brings SDN To Converged Wi-Fi Networks

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Adding SDN functions to network kit will let companies make money from their own Wi-Fi networks, while cloud management could help SMBs, HP promises

Companies can generate extra revenue from their Wi-Fi, HP has promised at a launch launch which added software defined network (SDN) functions to the company’s converged office products.

The computer giant updated its network products at the Interop show in Las Vegas today, adding cloud management features, and SDN capability to its Wi-Fi access points with the OpenFlow protocol, as well as updating to include the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. By handling Wi-Fi traffic more intelligently, organisations will be able to get money from that traffic, HP said.

Wi-Fi (c) marinini, Shuttersctock 2013

Money from your Wi-Fi

“These are the first OpenFlow enabled Wi-Fi access points on the market,” HP EMEA network product marketing manager Farhad Ghoreishi told TechWeekEurope. 

The new HP 560 access points transmit faster thanks to 802.11ac, and the OpenFlow SDN features will allow the network owner to enhance location services (HP’s Location Aware product), which might make money for some – for instance those with networks covering public space such as shopping malls.

“If you detect a customer is nearby, you can send a targeted advert, or provide the customer with an app to find what they want,” said Ghoreishi. “An SDN enabled environment, can make sure specific apps will get quality of service defined on the fly.”

He claimed that an SDN enabled Wi-Fi network in he company’s own space can help the IT  department by allowing more specific accounting and chargeback to other departments as IT becomes more service-oriented. There are also new controller appliances to manage wired and wireless networks – the HP 870 unified wired-WLAN appliance handles up to 30,000 devices, while the HP 850 supports up to 10,000.

SDN at the perimeter of the network will also increase security, Ghoreshi added. Separating the control from data within the devices at the edge of the network means that dangerous traffic can be spotted and blocked very quickly.  It also allows better mobile device management to keep out threats that can be created by bring your own device (BYOD) policies.

The cloud management function is specially useful to smaller businesses (SMBs) Ghoreishi said. HP’s Intelligent Management Center (IMC), an SDN product, lets customers get networks running quickly without much in-house IT expertise. HP is offering network services on a pay-per-use basis through parners, and has promised an “app store” which will deliver network functions as software, that are currently wrapped up in hardware appliances. More detail is expected about the app store at Interop.

Lifetime guarantee 2.0

HP has also upgraded the lifetime guarantee it makes on its edge and office network products: Lifetime Guarantee 2.0 now includes support calls as well as hardware support and replacement.

The cloud managed service will be available in June. The 802.11ac access points are available now for a US list price of $1199, and a unified 802.11ac wall jack will be delivered in May.

An HP 870 unified wired-WLAN appliance is available now for $36k US list price and the HP 850 will be here in June, Ghoreishi said.

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