Dell Unveils 40GbE-Enabled Networking Switch

The Force10 MXL 10/40GbE blade switch is part of a larger rollout of networking hardware and software that Dell will demonstrate next month at Interop.

Dell, leveraging its acquisition last year of networking vendor Force10 Networks, is adding new hardware and software offerings to its open networking platform, including a 40 Gigabit Ethernet-enabled switch for its PowerEdge M1000e blade system.

Dell also is unveiling enhancements to its networking operating system and new management capabilities that offer greater automation and a single console for all management needs on new and existing Dell networking infrastructures.

The new and enhanced offerings were announced April 24, and many will be on display at the Interop 2012 show in Las Vegas May 7-10. Dell also will demonstrate its capabilities in the burgeoning area of software-defined networking (SDN), including interoperability with Big Switch Networks€™ Open SDN architecture.

SDN is getting attention in the industry, particularly among big Web businesses and cloud computing proponents. Essentially, the idea is to take many of the networking tasks that are now done on expensive pieces of hardware and do them instead in software, which proponents say gives IT administrators greater control over their networking environments. It also helps reduce costs€”SDN can run on hardware that uses off-the-shelf processors, rather than more expensive proprietary technology; software upgrades are relatively easier than hardware refreshes; and the software can power down routers when necessary, saving money and power.

Dell last month unveiled its Virtual Network Architecture (VNA), an open networking platform that officials said will encompass both traditional hardware-based infrastructures and the growing trend toward more virtualized networking environments. A central part of Dell€™s VNA strategy is what officials call Dell Distributed Core, which moves away from larger deployments of expensive systems from the likes of Cisco Systems and more toward smaller, more cost-effective switches.

In addition, VNA is part of Dell€™s larger effort to evolve from a box maker to an IT solutions provider, with networking being a key to the strategy.

"As customers move to embrace 10GbE across their IT operations, including servers, storage and networking, Dell is the clear choice to help in all these areas," Dario Zamarian, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking, said in a statement. "Dell is helping its customers optimize their infrastructure today while architecting for greater intelligence and capability into the future."

Dell€™s Force10 MXL 10/40GbE blade switch looks to leverage the trend in data centers toward 10GbE networks, as well as give networking administrators who are working on 40GbE an option. The 1/10/40GbE Layer 2 and Layer 3 blade switch can work in a wide range of settings, including enterprise data centers, government networks and health care and educational institutions, according to company officials. The switch offers built-in Ethernet stacking technology, high performance and integrated storage support. The switch runs the Force10 operating system (FTOS).

Dell also is enhancing FTOS with features aimed at the S4810 10/40G top-of-rack system, including support for Virtual Link Trunking for greater scalability and control in Layer 2 switching environments, Ethernet switch stacking technology for simplified management in large-scale deployments, and support for Data Center Bridging for lossless Ethernet fabrics that enable converging storage and data over a common infrastructure.

The FTOS upgrades also enable auto-provisioning of virtual LANs when virtual machines are migrated without intervention.

Dell also introduced Dell Fabric Manager for configuring, managing and monitoring Dell Distributed Core deployments. Dell Fabric Manager gives IT administrators a single view into such deployments, which officials said will save time in configuring the switches and simplify the management.

With Open Manage Network Manager 5.0, Dell officials are offering a single console for all network management aspects on current and future networking platforms from the company, automating many of the management functions. With the new features, network administrators can reduce deployment time from weeks and months to hours, officials said.

Open Manage Network Manager 5.0 includes a redesigned Web-based GUI, support for Dell€™s entire switch portfolio, greater traffic flow analysis and resource group management for one-to-many switch configuration.