Dell pushes for enterprise credibility with new networking solutions

Dell Networking Z9500Dell has announced new cutting-edge networking solutions with the Dell Networking Z9500, an energy-efficient, high density 10/40 GbE data centre core switch, and the new Dell Active Fabric Controller for OpenStack.

“The key message here is that we are producing industry-leading technology,” said Kevin Burgess, Enterprise Technologist with the Networking Group at Dell Canada. “Dell isn’t often seen as that kind of leader, and is seen as not having a seat at the adult table in the enterprise. But we have moved away from just having storage conversations, or networking conversations. We are there too, with the bigger players.”

The Dell Networking Z9500 Fabric Switch is a high-density fixed-form factor data centre switch designed for data center 10/40 GbE aggregation requirements for high performance enterprise data centers, cloud computing, provider hosted data centers, and enterprise LAN cores.

“This is designed for mid-size to large data centers, and becomes our flagship aggregation switch,” Burgess said. “It is very dense. It replaces the Z9000 and it has 132 ports of 40 GbE, compared to 32 ports of 40 GbE in the Z9000.”

Burgess said that while in Canada 10 GbE is just now becoming standard, 10GbE has been common in the U.S. for more than 24 months, and going forward, the enterprise market requires dense 40GbE capacity.

“10GbE is here today, and you have to have something faster for the aggregation points to get the bandwidth at a higher level,” he said. The 3 rack-unit box is expandable to 528 10GbE ports, and its scalability is supported by ‘pay-as-you-go’ licensing for 36, 84, or 132 port SKUs  to increase fabric capacity as compute demand grows. It also consumes approximately half the power per port of the market-leading competitor switch in the space.

“When I talk to customers, their focus is innovation, and this shows Dell is doing something there, not just being a ‘me too’ player,” Burgess said. “This is an industry-leading product, and we can show customers it is leading edge, with this much density in this size of a box with low power requirements.”

The Dell Networking Z9500 Fabric Switch is available in North America in April and worldwide in June.

The other new product announcement, Dell’s new Active Fabric Controller, is a key part of the company’s Software-Defined Networking (SDN) strategy. It is targeted at enterprise OpenStack deployments and as an optional component of Dell OpenStack-Powered cloud solutions.

“This is a key evolution of where we see our SDN strategy going,” Burgess said. “We decided that the way for us to get to market very quickly was to take our controller strategy and tie it to OpenStack, to  integrate OpenStack into our programmable SDN solution. Networking has been one of the most difficult features to integrate in OpenStack, so we have made these networking configurations as simple as possible.”

Dell Active Fabric Controller is a purpose-built SDN platform that offers a single, integrated solution to provide on-demand virtualized network services to OpenStack with fully automated, unified lifecycle management of the physical infrastructure.  The Plug-n-Play solution works with OpenStack applications to deliver workload and policy awareness, and allows for insertion of service appliances including firewall, load balancing and wide area network optimization.

“This automation lets you make the network programmable and more automated, without manual intervention,” Burgess said.

“For us, this is just an interim step,” he added. “We will see more integration with this, because SDN is one of the big bets we have placed.”

The Dell Active Fabric Controller will be available worldwide in the second quarter of 2014.

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