Dell Offers New Networking Switch Lineup for SMBs

The vendor's X-Series family includes 1GbE and 10GbE switches that are easy to configure and manage to organizations with few IT resources.

Dell SMB switches

Dell is rolling out new network switches aimed at small and midsize businesses that often have the same challenges as their larger enterprise counterparts but with fewer resources and expertise.

The tech vendor is offering a new family of 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10GbE managed switches that are easy to configure and troubleshoot and come in a range of rack-mount models, and also is adding to its N-Series of switches with the N1500, which offers 24 and 48 ports for smaller managed networks.

The new offerings give Dell a lineup of networking switches for an SMB space that is significant in size but still underserved, according to Arpit Joshipura, vice president of strategy and product management for Dell Networking. The SMB and midmarket space has been "Dell's sweet spot" in other areas, such as servers, making it a natural market for the company to focus on in networking, Joshipura told eWEEK.

Currently, SMBs are forced to use switches that are designed more for larger enterprises or appliances that are fully unmanaged, he said. The problem is that many of these businesses face the same challenges as enterprises, including a much more distributed and mobile workforce and a rapidly growing amount of data that needs to be moved and analyzed in real time. They have to do all this with much fewer resources, and they don't get a lot of attention from larger, established networking vendors, he said.

Dell officials see this as an opportunity. The company views SMBs as those organizations with 50 to 5,000 employees, and he said there are about 2 million companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. At the heart of Dell's announcements April 6 is the new X-Series family of switches, which come with step-by-step wizards and customizable dashboards that make configuring the appliances fast and easy, and with many using Power-over-Ethernet or PoE+, which make them quiet enough for such places as a retail shops and casinos.

There are nine models in the X-Series that offer from eight to 52 ports. The portfolio also includes a Web-managed all-fiber 10GbE switch. The switches include a physical lock for security, default configuration and side-by-side rack tray mount for secure installation, according to Dell. The switches are GUI-based, and network management is easy enough that SMBs don't need IT professionals to operate them, Joshipura said.

In addition to the X-Series switches, Dell is adding to its N-Series with the N1500 family, which offers fully managed 1GbE switches for smaller networks. Dell already offers the larger N4000, N3000 and N2000 switches, and the N1500 line brings the fully managed switch model to smaller environments. It offers 24 to 48 ports, options for PoE+ or non-PoE, and command-line interface (CLI) and GUI capabilities that are consistent with the larger families of N-Series switches. The N1500 line can provide up to 200 1GbE in a four-unit rack and offers wired and wireless access and aggregation to address demands in an increasingly mobile world.

The new switches grow out Dell's portfolio for smaller and midsize businesses, Joshipura said. The X-Series addresses the needs of small offices, while the N1500 fits in with midsize offices. At the same time, both sets of switches can be used by enterprises with increasingly distributed environments for their smaller or medium-sized remote offices, he said.

The X-Series switches can be ordered immediately. The N1500 will be available in the summer.

The announcement comes about a year after Dell refreshed its campus-focused networking lineup to help organizations address the challenges presented by a more mobile workforce and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments, Joshipura said. The move was well-received, with Dell shipping more than 70,000 units and reaching a $200 million run rate for the campus offerings, and seeing growing interest in such areas as government, health care and education, he said.