I’ve made no secret that I’m a big fan of HP Networking. I like to thing that my belief in their product is based on positive experience and positive results under numerous deployment circumstances (ranging from small business to major government and university campus deployments I’ve been involved with). I believe most particularly that they have had the best edge switches on the market for a decade now and have become a solid player in the distribution and core layers of the LAN over the last 5 years.
One thing that frustrates me though is the impossibility of finding out information about HP networking that is not strictly technical. Their product information and documentation is probably the best around and their engineering training is also first rate. Trying to find out about the history of HP Networking is a something that’s a lot more difficult to turn up. HP has either been on the IETF committee for or invented some of the most significant aspects of Later-2 networking but for some reason they don’t seem to like to talk about it.
Anyway, I pumped one of my sources at HP and got the following out of them. I’m sure that there will be more to come (which I will append to this post) once their more experienced colleagues read this.
The HP Networking story
Throughout its long history, HP has distinguished itself as one of the most innovative and accomplished companies in the computing industry. From electronic test instruments and calculators to large and small computer systems, printers, and networking technologies, HP has led the way.
In the early 1980s, HP opened the doors on its networking business in Roseville, California. HP’s networking division focused on providing advanced, competitive, and timely technology to give its customers reliable and compelling value.
In 1987, HP development engineers invented key elements of 10Base-T, and drove the twisted pair standard that helped promote Ethernet to commercial viability by enabling it to run on low-cost telephone wiring already installed in commercial buildings — and the networking market took off.
Other important innovations from HP followed, including the industry’s first stackable 10Base-T hubs in 1990.
HP quickly became a leader in 10/100Base-T Ethernet switches, and in 1998 the HP ProCurve 4000 series switch broke below the $100 per port 10/100 price barrier.
In 1998, HP’s networking division became ProCurve Networking.
By 2003, ProCurve Networking became the second-largest global enterprise networking vendor in terms of revenue and ports (both PoE and non-PoE). According to Dell’Oro, the Ethernet switching market has grown by 76 percent between 2000 and 2010, while HP Networking has grown by more than twice that, with 166 percent growth over the same period.
In 1998, HP recognized that traditional networks with expensive, complex core devices surrounded by less expensive and less sophisticated access devices couldn’t support the performance, security, and multimedia application requirements coming to the network. Thus, HP created the HP Adaptive EDGE Architecture (AEA), which was introduced in 2000. This revolutionary (for the time) architectural model recognized that network device intelligence needed to be distributed throughout the network, including at the network edge. HP AEA became the architectural root of what has evolved into the HP FlexNetwork Architecture; and has been embodied in every networking product as well as every generation of HP custom-designed networking ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) since 1998.
There you have it for now. That’s maybe 10% of the history of what is the world’s second largest networking company that should be accessible on The Internet.
P.S. The information on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Networking and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ProCurve) is awful. The official HP History site (http://www8.hp.com/us/en/hp-information/about-hp/history/history.html) barely mentions networking at all