The purpose of this note is to provide a high-level and detailed point-by-point response to HP’s blog. HP’s primary argument is that the Miercom report is flawed because it compares “apples and oranges.” However, it’s evident from the Miercom report that Cisco is indeed comparing apples to apples. The report showed that Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches functionally meet or exceed a full list of HP switches—2520, 2510, 2620, 2810, and 1810G switches —and are highly competitive in terms of pricing, features, services, and warranty. The fact that Cisco is marketing these switches as Small Business switches does not invalidate the results of the Miercom report.
We think the reality is that HP was caught a bit off guard by the capability and competitiveness of the Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches, and that this blog post is HP’s way of covering up the results and adding misleading information. Instead of directly addressing the Miercom comparisons between the Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches and HP switches, HP decided to make comparisons directed at Cisco Catalyst® switches and to purposely avoid any direct comparisons with the Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches. The reason is evident—HP was outmatched.
We’ve punched a big hole in HP’s overall “anti-Cisco” positioning. The Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches round out Cisco’s switching portfolio for small and medium-sized businesses and, in HP’s argument, maybe even in Enterprise switching.
Below is our “apples to apples” comparison to address head on every argument HP listed in its blog.
Here are the facts from the Miercom report:
Fact: Cisco’s SMB switches were proven to be more capable than HP’s “SMB” switches as well as its “Enterprise” switches, with larger table sizes (VLANs, MAC tables, etc.) and more features (such as Energy Efficient Ethernet [EEE] and full IPv6).
Fact: The overall performance of Cisco switches meets or exceeds the performance of HP’s “SMB” switches as well as its “Enterprise” switches. For example, Cisco’s SG300-52 52-Port Gigabit Managed Switch exhibited the highest throughput of all the switches in the test.
Fact: Cisco switches outperformed all HP “SMB” and “Enterprise” switches when the switches were under network attack. More of the Cisco models performed well in the presence of an attack. Also, in cases where both HP and Cisco models performed well during an attack, the CPU utilization in the Cisco models was lower than in the HP models, leaving more network resources to allow the switches to get on with the tasks of network connectivity, security, and uptime.
Fact: Cisco switches were found to be easier to set up and use than HP’s “SMB” and “Enterprise” switches.
Fact: With the exception of one HP switch model, all of the Cisco switches delivered better overall power consumption than HP’s “SMB” and “Enterprise” comparable switches. Additionally, HP switches lacked key energy-saving capabilities across all of the switches tested (such as EEE).
Fact: Normalized pricing (price per gigabit and per watt of Power over Ethernet [PoE]) showed that Cisco switches deliver better value than HP’s “SMB” switches, as well as its “Enterprise” switches.
Fact: HP lists features in the blog that it claims differentiate the 2620 from Cisco Small Business switches, but every feature listed is supported in the Cisco Small Business switches, including “a choice of management tools (CLI, GUI-based, or web based), advanced QoS functionality, and lifetime warranty.”
[Editorial Note (2/27/2014) - It was suggested in the HP Blog and in the comments to their blog that HP 1910 is a better comparison. The following link is a detailed document showing Cisco 300 Series has 100+ intelligent features not present in HP 1910 - https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-40056]
With regard to HP’s discussion of the Miercom report’s findings on energy efficiency:
While it is true that the full power consumption of a switch needs to be taken into account, the Miercom report does indeed include this data. It was not left out of the report. Miercom included the external (independently measured) system power consumption for all switches tested which is a normalized view across all models. (Overall system power is the power consumed by the switch CPU and components in the switch.) This method was applied across the PoE and non-PoE models tested, and the data from the report supports that it was an “apples for apples” comparison. So to say that the Miercom testing is a not a valid comparison is entirely incorrect.
It is also true, as pointed out in the blog, that there was one HP switch that exhibited lower power consumption than the Cisco switch. What HP neglected to say was that this was the only switch from HP—in the entire test—that exhibited lower overall power consumption.
It is also true that the HP switch referred to in the blog supports PoE+, while the Cisco switch does not. What HP did not mention is the converse: that Cisco Small Business switches have numerous capabilities that are not supported in the switch mentioned in the blog—features such as VLAN mirroring, IPv6 access control lists (ACLs), and a lot more not mentioned in the report.
The automatic power allocation mentioned by HP is also supported in the Cisco Small Business switches.
Findings in the Miercom report that HP did not argue with:
HP switches exhibited frame loss.
Cisco products performed better in the presence of a denial-of-service (DOS) attack.
HP products had lower scores for usability.
With all power consumption data taken into account, HP switches consumed more power and were less efficient.
HP products are priced significantly higher than Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches
HP calls Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches “oranges.” But the fact is that Cisco’s “oranges” beat HP’s “apples” in every single category: performance, usability, energy efficiency and power consumption, features, and more. Does the fact that these Cisco switches are being marketed as “Small Business” invalidate the results of the Miercom report? We don’t think so. HP wants to shift focus away from the fact that it was beaten badly. It wants customers to focus on what a product is called instead of what it does. And what the Cisco 200 and 300 Series switches do is outperform the HP switches in every way.
Read the Miercom test report and decide for yourself: