Dell Unveils PowerConnect 8100 Switches for Campus Networks

The new scalable 10GbE switches grow Dell's networking portfolio, a key part of the company's larger strategy to become a full enterprise IT solutions provider.

Dell is rolling out new PowerConnect networking switches to help midmarket companies and enterprises' campuses offer the scalability, performance and flexibility needed for such workloads as desktop virtualization, unified communications and video conferencing, and to handle such trends as bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

Dell's PowerConnect 8100 10G-bps stackable switches are designed to be used as building blocks that can scale as needed to run high-density, high-performance applications. The switches are easy to deploy, less costly to run and based on Dell's Virtual Network Architecture (VNA) open-networking platform, according to William Choe, executive director of campus, branch and mobility for Dell Networking.

"You are now able to create 300, 400 ports of 10G, either within the data center or the campus core," Choe told eWEEK.

The PowerConnect 8100 switches are part of Dell's growing campus switch portfolio, which also includes switches aimed at the campus edge and aggregation layer. The new offerings also are part of the company's larger efforts to evolve from a PC and server maker to an enterprise IT solutions provider, offering everything from servers, storage and networking to software and services.

Dell executives released second-quarter financial numbers that showed some success in its enterprise efforts-revenue for their Enterprise Solutions unit grew 6 percent, to $4.9 billion-though Dell's overall numbers were hurt in large part by the struggling PC business. Dell over the past few years has been aggressive in buying companies that could add capabilities to the IT solutions push, with last year's acquisition of Force 10 Networks being a key deal in building up the networking business.

According to Dell's numbers, networking sales for Dell jumped 94 percent in the second quarter over the same time last year.

The IT solutions push can be seen in Dell officials' noting that with the new PowerConnect 8100 switches combining with the company's latest 12th-generation PowerEdge servers and its own EqualLogic and Compellent 10GbE storage arrays, businesses can deploy a complete Dell-branded 10GbE infrastructure solution.

"This is really a great opportunity for campus environments to look at new ways to deploy these infrastructures," Choe said.

The new switches offer low-latency 10GbE performance and up to four 40GbE ports, and up to six switches can be stacked and easily managed, giving businesses an easy and fast way to scale as needed. The switches can scale up to 384 10GbE ports. They also feature iSCSI traffic flow optimization and automatic configuration with Dell's EqualLogic storage arrays.

As part of Dell's VNA platform, the new switches come in four models and are available in 24 and 48 ports, with such expandable options as 40GbE ports, all of which bring greater flexibility. With Dell's ReadyRails tool-less installation, the switches can be deployed within minutes, and through its support of Energy Efficient Ethernet standards, the switches offer businesses high efficiency by enabling intelligently managed power use and reduce per-port power consumption.

The PowerConnect 8100 switches are managed and configured through Dell's OpenManage Network Manager 5.2 software.

The PowerConnect 8100 switches are available immediately, starting at $11,095.