Hewlett Packard Enterprise is turning up the heat on rival Cisco Systems with a strategic software-defined infrastructure partnership and sales pact with network switching innovator Arista Networks.
Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE's Enterprise Group, which has been grabbing share from Cisco with its Aruba wireless networking portfolio, is scheduled to disclose the partnership Tuesday morning before more than 1,000 partners on the first day of HPE's Global Partner Conference.
Under the terms of the pact, Arista will be HPE's "preferred networking partner" in data centre networking as an infrastructure foundation for HPE's software-defined infrastructure offerings.
HPE, which already has a converged architecture agreement with Arista, is also offering solution providers and customers the ability to buy the Arista network switching products directly from HPE starting 7 November.
"Together, HPE and Arista are uniquely positioned to help organisations transition to a software-defined data center through innovations that enable network automation," said HPE vice president and general manager of networking Dominic Wilde in a blog post announcing the deal.
"Augmenting our HPE Data Centre Infrastructure Group (DCIG) portfolio with Arista networking enables HPE to offer highly differentiated solutions that create impactful business outcomes for our customers."
Wilde said that HPE and Arista "share a common vision" around the need to deliver secure hybrid IT solutions built on industry-leading software-defined infrastructure.
"This partnership will provide our customers with best-of-breed networking solutions that are superior to legacy networking solutions and that are complementary to our HPE DCIG solutions, including HPE compute, storage, virtualisation and cloud offerings," wrote Wilde in the blog post.
Adding Arista to the current HPE FlexFabric and Altoline product lines will expand HPE's ability to "address a wider variety of data centre networking customer use cases and requirements," added Wilde.
The partnership opens the door for Arista to use HPE's muscle to gain network switching share even as Cisco is in the midst of a long-running, heated patent infringement legal battle aimed at getting Arista to stop selling its products in the US.
In June, the International Trade Commission ruled that Arista networking switches infringed on three of the five patents cited in a lawsuit filed by Cisco in December 2014, recommending a ban on selling and importing several Arista products.
Cisco is pushing for the halt of Arista products found with infringing technology while Arista says it has since released new versions with design-arounds to address features the International Trade Commission ruled were infringed upon.
Although Cisco leads the data centre networking market, it lost share in 2015, with revenue share declining from 62.1 percent to 60.7 percent and shipment share falling from 46.9 percent to 44.2 percent, according to research firm Gartner.
Arista, meanwhile, continues to be one of the fastest-growing vendors in the data centre, with product revenue growth of more than 40 percent in 2015 year over year.
HPE has been on a networking tear since acquiring wireless superstar Aruba Networks last year. HPE's networking business powered by Aruba is up 22 percent in the first nine months of its fiscal year ended 31 July to US$2.37 billion compared with US$1.94 billion in the same period one year ago.
For Arista’s recent second fiscal quarter, which ended 30 June 30, the company reported a 37 percent increase in sales to US$269 million. The company currently has more than 3,700 customers.
For Cisco’s fourth fiscal quarter ended 30 July, its switching business grew two percent year over year to US$3.79 billion. In its third fiscal quarter, however, Cisco reported a three percent year-over-year drop in switching sales to US$3.45 billion.