Dell Moves Into Layer 3 Switching

Continuing its quest to become a legitimate networking vendor, Dell launched its first foray into Layer 3 switching.

Dell Inc., continuing its quest to become a legitimate networking vendor, launched its first foray into Layer 3 switching.

The Round Rock, Texas, company last week added a pair of 24-port Layer 3 switches to its existing Layer 2 switching products, extending the high end of its product line a week after adding a low-end, unmanaged Layer 2 switch. Theyre available now.

The new PowerConnect 6000 series includes a 24-port copper version for Gigabit Ethernet and a 24-port fiber version. The PowerConnect 6024 and 6024F are targeted at small and midsize enterprises.

With prices starting at $3,499, Dell is making it more attractive for small companies to add Layer 3 switching at an affordable cost, said early user Josh Vinyard, IT manager at Diab Inc., a DeSoto, Texas, manufacturer.

"I was reluctant to look at any Layer 3 switch. I was sure there wasnt anything in our price range. Were a small company with a very small budget. For at least half to a third of the cost of Cisco, we could have full Gigabit bandwidth on our network and have one piece of hardware," Vinyard said.

Whether they will bring pricing pressure to competitors such as Cisco Systems Inc. and 3Com Corp. is unclear at this point, analysts say, although the switches are priced at least $670 less than comparable offerings, according to Dell officials.

The PowerConnect 6000s offer the flexibility to include eight ports of copper or fiber connectivity, and they include Dells OpenManage Network Manager for monitoring and configuration management. Both units include redundant, hot-swappable power supplies and fans as well as an integrated cable tester to speed troubleshooting.

The Layer 3 switches support the most pervasive routing protocols, including Routing Information Protocol, Open Shortest Path First and Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol, as well as IP Multicast.