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HP tackles networking needs

Hewlett-Packard continues to push its networking business in the face of ever-increasing competition from recent entrants such as Intel and Compaq.

LAS VEGAS--Hewlett-Packard continues to push its networking business in the face of ever-increasing competition from the likes of recent entrants such as Intel and Compaq Computer.

To highlight the company's position as a networking player, HP launched new switching devices that support the Gigabit Ethernet standard, available in July, and demonstrated a next-generation technology that can speed data at 10 gigabits per second.

HP executives said the new high-speed offering will allow the firm to differentiate itself from others in the industry and lift it out of the commoditized market for lower-end networking equipment.

HP executives also feel the company's strength in high-end computing can serve the company's networking business well, especially with the development of gigabit-speed technology as a connection point to collections of server systems.

"As a company, we can go there," said Ketil Hauge, marketing manager for the company's workgroup networks division. "That's the market--we want to make sure they're using HP networking products too."

HP remains behind the pack in most networking market segments, but executives say the company continues to gain market share versus competitors. The company's share does not approach that of networking giants such as 3Com and Bay Networks.

The prototype 10-gigabit technology is currently being explored as an option in networking components in HP's labs and is far from becoming a product, according to HP. However, it may soon be offered to a standards organization, which could begin a process that would lead to widespread acceptance of the technology.

The new gigabit-speed gear consists of a fixed configuration 16-port model with a gigabit uplink option, while a second device offers as many as 80 10/100 mbps ports, as well as gigabit connections. The move follows the introduction of workgroup-oriented devices in March.

As part of the launch, HP also announced a new product name for the networking line--ProCurve.

HP was not alone in demonstrating new gigabit-speed gear. Packet Engines and XLNT are among several companies who continue to hone their high-speed messages with a wider range of equipment options.