Microsoft taps HP for demo centers

Follows HP's launch of ProVision-based edge switches

Microsoft is installing HP ProCurve networking gear in all of its Microsoft Technology Centers around the world.

Microsoft is deploying ProCurve wired and wireless networks at its eight MTCs in North America, as well as global locations in China, Dubai, France, Germany, India, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In all, between 15 and 20 MTCs will be fitted with about 100 ProCurve switches.

"HP has been a terrific partner of Microsoft's and the Microsoft Technology Centers," says John Mathieu, Microsoft director of the MTC Global Alliance. "We had an opportunity to replace some of the legacy gear and ProCurve introduced their products to us, we really like what they had to offer, and the fact that HP is such a strong partner of Microsoft's."

Microsoft paid nothing for the gear, Mathieu says. HP's return is essentially as the showcase vendor underpinning the MTC network.

"This is a partnership," Mathieu says. "The partners actually invest the equipment into the MTCs and...get a return by leveraging the MTCs as if they were sales resources of their own."

Microsoft's former vendor was Cisco in many of the MTCs. But Cisco was not a "partner" in the MTC sense of the word -- ostensibly, a donator of equipment.

Cisco and Microsoft are increasingly competing as well, as Cisco sets its sights on deep penetration into software.

"They weren't a partner of ours in terms of being part of my program," Mathieu said. "But a lot of the switching was in there because it was the choice that was made. Not all the MTCs came online at the same time. We've been slowly but surely adding MTCs throughout the years and Cisco's been in quite a number of them but when we saw an opportunity with ProCurve we decided to run with them worldwide."

A Cisco spokesperson says the company is involved in the Microsoft Partner Solution Center in Redmond, Wash., and that Microsoft has and continues to use Cisco products in its own network infrastructure.

MTCs were established in 2001 to showcase the latest technologies from Microsoft and its strategic partners. Each MTC has staff that works with customers to plan, design and evaluate customized products using Microsoft and interoperable partner technologies, including ProCurve, prior to deployment in customers' IT environments.

ProCurve will provide joint support of new product trials, integration testing and new product demonstrations for MTC clients.

MTC networks will be built on ProCurve's gigabit 5400zl series switches, the stackable 2900 series switches with 10Gbps uplinks, and the 5300 series modular switches for Layer 2, 3, and 4 switching.

For mobility, MTCs will use ProCurve Access Point 530, a dual-radio stand-alone access point, and the ProCurve Identity Driven Manager for security and management.

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