Dell Expands Networking Portfolio for Campus, Data Center

The vendor is offering a new control switch and access nodes to simplify the management of increasingly complex campus networks.

Dell switch

Dell is rolling out an array of networking products designed not only to simplify campus environments, but also to address the growing demand for bandwidth in data centers.

The vendor on Sept. 24 introduced a unified architecture for campus networks that includes networking nodes and a switch that when used together creates a single-layer architecture with a single management point for the entire infrastructure.

At the same time, Dell added to its open networking portfolio with the S6100-ON switch, which can run multiple port speeds, ranging from 10 Gigabit Ethernet to 100GbE, and is aimed at big data, cloud and virtualization environments.

The new offerings are part of Dell's larger effort to take a holistic approach to enterprise networking, running from the data center and out to the campus, according to Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking and Enterprise Infrastructure.

"It's not just addressing the area of the data center, where bandwidth [demand] is never-ending," Burns told eWEEK. "In the campus, new architectures and applications … are really going to change how they're doing networking today."

In campus environments, organizations are looking for ways to increase scalability while making management less complex, according to Dell officials. What's needed is a new architecture that offers a single point of control for the entire campus for such jobs as quality of services, policy provisioning and software upgrades, Burns said. That means creating a single logical network that can be managed for the entire infrastructure—from access to core. It also can easily be scaled by adding switching as needed and by support for 100GbE; it also supports industry-standard protocols that enable customers to re-deploy the vendor's N-series switches as access nodes for the new architecture.

Dell's new C9010 Network Director is a modular switch that can centrally manage up to 4,000 virtual ports; the switch supports 10GbE and 40GbE now, and will be able to support 100GbE in the future. With the C9010, customers can manage multiple switches through a single point of control, so if an upgrade is needed, the nodes can be upgraded centrally through the network director rather than having to go to each node individually.

"You can think of it as a single switch from a management standpoint, but it's really managing [a number of] switches," Burns said.

While the C9010 can work with existing N-series nodes, its capabilities around simplicity and scalability will expand when paired with the new C1048 Rapid Access Nodes, according to company officials. The new nodes will offer enhanced power-over-Ethernet (PoE) and greater throughput, and the C1048P can be deployed either stand-alone or as part of a stack, and can easily be added to the infrastructure as needed.

Both the C9010 Network Director and C1048 access nodes will be available in October.

In the first quarter of 2016, Dell will launch the S6100-ON, a switch that brings greater flexibility to the data center, according Burns. The system will offer from 128 ports of 10GbE to 32 ports of 100GbE, with options for 25GbE, 30GbE and 50GbE, and will include choices of either QSFP28 or CXP ports.

It also adds to Dell's Open Networking initiative, in which the vendor offers branded switches that can run third-party software, such as Linux-based network operating systems from Cumulus Networks and Pluribus Networks, Midokura's network virtualization software and Big Switch Networks' software-defined networking (SDN) platform. They also can run Dell's own networking OS.

Dell introduced the Open Networking strategy in early 2014 to push back at the trend fueled by SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) toward using low-cost commodity white-box and bare-metal switches in the data center, and to offer customers greater flexibility in the software they can run on Dell equipment. Through the initiative, Dell can offer switches that are less expensive and more open than traditional networking hardware. They're more expensive than white boxes, but offer support and services from a tier-one vendor that systems from original-design manufacturers can't provide.

A number of other networking vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks, offer similar "brite box" products.