HP this week said it has expanded a trade-in programme for customers looking to swap out Cisco switches for HP gear.

HP broadened its "A Catalyst for Change Trade-in Promotion" for qualifying customers in Asia Pacific. HP estimates that, globally, nearly $9 billion (£5.5 billion) in Cisco networking equipment is approaching end of life or service in 2011.

The "A Catalyst for Change" programme is designed to enable customers to migrate from older Cisco Catalyst switches to HP equipment with an upfront 20% discount off the list price of its switches.

In Asia Pacific, the "A Catalyst for Change" trade-in is the first HP Networking programme to deliver cash rebates upon purchase of HP's A-Series, E-Series and V-series switches, the company says. Orders can be accompanied with a trade-in of eligible networking equipment of any brand, not just Cisco equipment. The program will run until October in Australia, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

HP is also offering network planning and migration services to try to smooth the transition from other vendors' switches. Plus, the company provides "fast-track" certification training on the HP gear.

HP commenced the "Catalyst for Change" initiative late last year.

HP and Cisco are engaged in a bitter battle for customers and market share in switching and data centre IT. Cisco went on the offensive recently, claiming its new Catalyst 6500 Supervisor 2T offers three times the performance of HP's A9850 switch at 1.3 times the price.

HP countered by saying Cisco is comparing apples to oranges. The real comparison, according to HP, should be with the HP A10500 switch, which is shipping in China and will be available globally in the fall.

In the first quarter of 2011, Cisco's share of the $4.74 billion Ethernet switch market slipped to 65% from 71.5% in Q1 of 2010, according to Dell'Oro Group. HP's share rose to 11.2% from 5.6% in Q1 2010, prior to the acquisition of 3Com.

3Com added close to 3.5 percentage points to HP's Ethernet switch share after the deal closed in the second quarter of 2010.