Dell Inc. on Tuesday will throw down the gauntlet to more established competitors in the LAN switching arena when it introduces a new network management tool that it is giving away for free.
The new Dell OpenManage Network Manager is designed to simplify management of 10 or more PowerConnect Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet switches.
The Austin, Texas, company, in trying to build market share two years into the networking market, is hoping to put itself on the short list with customers by bundling in a full-blown network management tool for its PowerConnect 3000 and 5000 series switches, believes Stephen Elliot, senior analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.
"They wont be left off the list because they dont have the capability," he said.
The tool provides a full range of management functions, including automated discovery of PowerConnect switches, monitoring, configuration and event management, performance management and a topology map that allows users to drill down to view more specific switches.
It is ideal for customers that have 10 or more of our switches," said Ulrich Hansen, senior manager of product marketing for Dell Networking in Austin. "Those tasks you would do consistently across those switches you can do at one time. For example, with firmware upgrades, we can select a group of switches or all switches and automatically apply the firmware upgrade to those switches," he added.
The tool also allows users to schedule tasks such as configuration backups to run at off hours.
Hansen believes that competitive management tools that provide similar functionality can cost "several thousand dollars." For those competitors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. or 3Com Corp. that offer free management tools, the functionality is not as complete, he added.
The topology map shows the geographic location of equipment and the status of equipment by site.
OpenManage Network Manager also gathers performance data from the OpenConnect switches, which it stores in a SQL database for analysis.
The Java-based client/server application runs on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The client requires 256KB of RAM and 400MB of storage.
Customers can download the free software from Dell or request a CD.