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Cisco, HP push one-stop shopping

Cisco and HP team up to provide one-stop shopping for Internet and intranet networked systems.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Hewlett-Packard (HWP) don't want to go solo.

The two industry giants today announced a comprehensive agreement that will cover technology development, integration of tools, service, and support in an effort to entice customers already using Internet and intranet technologies to buy all future equipment and services from them.

Cisco President and CEO John Chambers said industry partnerships often end up on the rocks because the two partners have different visions about their role in the industry. "If you look at HP and Cisco's view of where the industry is going, we're in complete lockstep," he observed.

"To move toward the next generation of applications, new efficiencies are required," added HP Chairman, President and CEO Lewis Platt at a news conference at Cisco headquarters.

Both companies view the joint opportunity this arrangement creates as a way to simplify the complex responsibilities of chief information officers and information technology personnel. They hope to accomplish this by offering complete integrated solutions that can free up administrators to concentrate on cutting-edge applications and content for users and not whether a particular app will run across their network without any tweaking.

"The customers are asking for this: make my enterprise easier to (manage)," Platt said.

The agreement is targeted at several areas:

  • HP will offer Cisco's high-end internetworking products to its customers and will integrate Cisco's internetworking operating system (IOS) software into its own AdvanceStack networking products, as well as its popular Unix and Microsoft Windows NT-based NetServer systems. Cisco will also offer an HP-branded hub with its low-end NetBeyond gear. The company has already licensed the IOS software to Compaq Computer and has said it would like to make the IOS platform a de facto standard for internetworking software. HP and Cisco have already provided customers with router modules for HP products running IOS.

  • HP will integrate Cisco's Gigabit Ethernet routing technology into future releases of its HP 9000 enterprise server family through joint development of PCI-based interface cards. Cisco is one of many networking vendors planning to introduce Gigabit Ethernet products as soon as a draft standard is ironed out later this year.

  • The two companies will work on Web-based interfaces for their CiscoWorks and HP Openview system and network-management offerings.

  • HP and Cisco will jointly work on Internet-related protocols such as the Resource Reservation Protocol and emerging authentication and authorization standards so that comprehensive Web-based applications can be best used.

  • Finally, HP and Cisco will develop configurations for customers that are optimized for different markets and applications. An agreement for HP to remain the only worldwide provider of support services for Cisco customers has also been extended, with the two companies agreeing to develop comprehensive management plans to facilitate customer service.

    HP and Cisco Systems are no strangers to each other. Besides work on a router module for HP's networking gear, the two companies announced last July that HP would integrate Cisco's Channel Interface Processor into its mainframe connectivity solutions package. The agreement allows, for example, IBM mainframes to be connected to an Ethernet-based LAN.

    "We have a common customer base," Eileen Coe, a business development manager at Cisco, said of the HP-Cisco relationship. "I think we've been able to strengthen the computing solutions that HP provides."

    "I think this makes a lot of sense on a number of levels," said Virginia Brooks, manager of network technology for the Aberdeen Group consultancy. HP has focused on the workgroup and found it hard to penetrate enterprise networks, but "to have a partner like Cisco, who has significant penetration there, is a real plus."

    Cisco and HP officials said products resulting from the partnership and technology development will start rolling out this spring and will continue through next year.