Dell EMC announces broad range of new Open Networking switches

These include the first Dell EMC 25GbE Open Networking top-of-rack switch, for the high end, a new switch with Fibre Channel connectivity, and a new 1/10GbE switch for SME environments.

Tom Burns, senior vice president, Networking, Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider, Dell EMC

LAS VEGAS – At Dell EMC World, Dell EMC has made multiple announcements around their Open Networking capabilities.  They announced the new S5100-ON switch, their first 25GbE Open Networking switch, which is being closely synced with their new Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers in a classic “better together” strategy. Their new S4100-ON series of  Open Networking switches is also part of a “better together” strategy, as its Fibre Channel capabilities fit well with Dell EMC storage. Finally, the Dell EMC N1100-ON series is a  series of switches designed for SMB-sized campus environments, smaller than those served by the recently announced N2100-ON and N3100-ON switches.

David Goulden, Dell EMC’s President, acknowledged that networking is the one area within Dell’s total portfolio which is more specialized than those of focused providers in the space, but emphasized that Dell doesn’t see this as a weakness, and has no plans to change.

“We believe open networking is growing very rapidly, and will grow even more rapidly with the Internet of Things,” he said. “Our IP is in Open Networking, which uses the same platform as our servers, so it’s a logical extension for us. There are no ASICS and customers have a choice of networking stacks they put on top of it. A lot of big hyperscale networking vendors deploy it. It’s also growing very rapidly in the Internet of Things.”

“We can compete with Cisco and Arista anywhere, any time in conventional networking,” said Tom Burns, senior vice president, Networking, Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider, Dell EMC. “But we are focused on convergence and open networking, not in going down a proprietary path. Cisco still has a relatively proprietary mode. We give customers flexibility and capability, and don’t lock them in. We don’t aspire to every single product Cisco has, nor do we think our customers should need that.”

The new S5100-ON series is Dell EMC’s first 25GbE Open Networking switch, and the first 25GbE top-of-rack switch on the market that is not proprietary.

“Most analysts believe that 25GbE will be the fastest growing segment in the market over the next 12-18 months,” Burns said. “The 1GbE to 10GbE migration is basically done in the larger mid-market and enterprise companies, and we believe that customers now are looking at migrations from 10GbE to 25GbE.”

The S5100 has 48 ports of 25GbE and 6 ports of 100GbE uplinks, and is aimed mainly at cloud service providers, Web tech companies and very large enterprises. It matches the newly-announced Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation servers, which ship with native 25GbE support.

The new S4100-ON Open Networking switches are optimized for high densities of 10GbE fiber/copper or Fibre Channel 8/16/32 server and converged LAN or SAN networks (SAN) within racks. The S4148U unified switch for both Ethernet and Fibre Channel traffic connects to storage solutions, and is Dell EMC’s first switch to support 32GbE Fibre Channel for customers who want to further converge LAN/SAN operations.

“This low-cost switch is the industry’s only 32GbE switch with Fibre Channel connectivity,” Burns said. “Fibre Channel is seen as declining, but it’s more accurate to say that it is actually relatively flat. Our relationship with Brocade and Cisco around Fibre Channel is of considerable value to us. This is also really a ‘Better Together’ with our storage solutions.”

Burns emphasized that the S5100-ON and S4100-ON are the first Dell data centre platforms to ship standard with the new OS10 Enterprise Edition software. It provides layer 2 and layer 3 networking functionality while also allowing customers to easily customize the software for different environments.

The third component of the announcement, the Dell EMC N1100-ON series, is a family of  1/10GbE Open Networking switches for SMBs.

“These are great for retail, hospitality and smaller campus environments,” Burns said. “They include Power over Ethernet non-POE versions, and integrate with Aerohive’s HiveManager NG cloud-based management solution.”

The N1100-ON series will be the most significant to the channel, in terms of the number of switches sold. Burns indicated, however, that Open Networking as a whole has been doing well as a channel area.

“Last year, our growth in the amount of business done by the channel was up around 10 per cent,” he said. “Overall growth was seven per cent, so the channel grew more than the direct.”