Computer giant Hewlett-Packard is making a big push this year to revive its networking equipment business in Asia, with an eye to grabbing market share from Cisco Systems. Mark Thompson, worldwide sales and marketing manager for HP's ProCurve networking business, said the company had renewed its commitment to distributors in the region with promises of higher profit margins. Financial details were not disclosed. 'More importantly, we are committed to delivering the lowest total cost of ownerhip and improved product reliability to our enterprise customers,' he said. ProCurve-brand networking products, including Ethernet hubs and switches, routers and network management applications, have been available in Asia for some time. But the company's marketing emphasis has been on its computers, printers, software and services. ProCurve products were usually bundled as part of other HP computing systems delivered to enterprises, he said. Ethernet switches offer users the high performance necessary to support advanced network applications, including enterprise-wide network security and sending data and voice traffic over a single connection. In North America and Europe, sales of ProCurve products have been steady revenue-contributors for HP. 'We have risen from 11th to third in the networking market in four years,' Mr Thomson said. 'This success is based on ProCurve's superior price-to-performance ratio and open technology, which allows for wider interoperability and ease of use.' Research firm Dell'Oro Group recently found that demand for ProCurve networking gear, comprising so-called layer 2 through layer 7 switches, grew 49 per cent in the 12 months to the third quarter last year. This strong growth outpaced competitors Cisco and 3Com as well as the whole Ethernet switch market. The global Ethernet switch market grew 29 per cent during that period. The Dell'Oro report said ProCurve total layer 3 switch business grew 179 per cent from the second quarter to the third quarter of last year, securing an 11.6 per cent global market share. Nine months into its merger with Compaq Computer, HP was now keen to boost ProCurve's profile to its enterprise customers in Asia, Mr Thompson said. 'We feel the market-share numbers clearly indicate that the value HP Procurve products represents has never been more compelling than it is now,' he said. 'HP is offering what customers are looking for: solid, feature-rich networking solutions at great prices.' With operations in more than 160 countries, HP also appeared ready to stake its claim on more territory from Cisco and other makers of networking gear. Adding fuel to this initiative was a report last month from the Tolly Group, an independent technology testing firm, which said that HP's ProCurve 53008xl switch outperformed a rival product from Cisco, the Catalyst 4006. The group said its tests determined that the ProCurve switch offered four times better performance at a quarter the price of the Catalyst product. Research firm Gartner, however, said Cisco remained the leading vendor of networking gear in the Asia-Pacific. 'Other vendors... will have to work hard to steal market share from Cisco,' Gartner said. Figures from research firm International Data Corp, for example, show that Cisco had about 65 per cent market share of the Asia-Pacific Gigabit Ethernet switch market in the third quarter last year. Foundry Networks was the next biggest vendor, with a 6.6 per cent share.