Dell Technologies, VMware extend networking collaboration at VMworld

The companies announce the availability – with some minor enhancements – of the VMWare VeloCloud-based solution announced at Dell Technologies World, as well as a new SmartFabric Director to simplify joint physical-virtual management.

Dell EMC SD-WAN Edge powered by VMware appliances. 600 series (top) and 3000 series (bottom)

At VMworld 2019, Dell Technologies has made a pair of announcements relating to their partnerships with VMware, which extend their software-defined networking portfolio. The company has launched the general availability of the SD-WAN solution based on VMware VeloCloud that was announced in April at Dell Technologies World. They have also announced a new network orchestration solution, SmartFabric Director, which facilitates the construction and operation of an open network underlay fabric based on Dell EMC PowerSwitch switches.

“Both Dell and VMware share in common a history of innovating and somewhat disrupting traditional tech markets, and the vision of innovation around the network,” said Tom Burns, senior vice president & general manager, Dell EMC Networking & Solutions. “Our goal is to help customers simplify in this way, and lower their costs of networking. These announcements relate to that. They usher in solutions that span the new generation of networking.”

The part of the news relating to the co-branded SD-WAN service with VMware which utilizes the VMware  VeloCloud platform is an availability announcement, with the service now being able to be bought globally, and fully supported by Dell EMC. Burns said it’s not just about availability however, as there are some subtle extensions from the original April announcement.

“At Dell Technologies World, we announced an OEM agreement which utilizes VMware VeloCloud SD-WAN, and we are now announcing availability of that,” he said. “What we have now built and are shipping is a built-in appliance, SD-WAN Edge powered by VMware, in which Dell EMC takes all Level 1 and Level 2 calls. It can provide the logistics of a secure supply chain globally, and provides the capability to expand globally.”

A second aspect of this announcement is a new SD-WAN Orchestrator.

“This is branded and fully managed by Dell EMC,” Burns said. “The customer can connect to the Dell EMC Orchestrator with one-touch capability to get it up and running.”

The third component of the announcement is that the SD-WAN gateways from VMware to handle WAN traffic will all be handled entirely through Dell EMC, which Burns said will significantly extend their use.

“VMware has deployed its SD-WAN gateways mainly in telcos, where they provide dynamic path optimization for traffic,” he said. “In addition to this, which telcos provide as a service, these traffic cop gateways can be used by enterprises using VeloCloud, with it being hosted and managed by Dell EMC. It’s all done through Dell EMC. The customer doesn’t need to call VMware. This single throat to choke through Dell EMC will extend these services significantly.

“These three things enhance the previous SD-WAN announcement,” Burns said.

The second component of the networking news from VMworld is a new solution, SmartFabric Director, which will be globally available in September.

“This is the first co-developed fabric management platform between Dell EMC and VMware,” Burns said. “Before, even setting up an overlay or controller has been a challenge because of the lack of visibility between layers. Working with VMware, we designed this SmartFabric Director to simplify the process and connectivity between the physical and virtual layer.”

The Dell EMC SmartFabric Director makes fabric discovery an ongoing process, ensuring that the wiring is consistent with the user-defined intent, and clearly visualizing its streaming telemetry data. It also handles lifecycle management, automating the download, install and verification process of switch images.

“It creates the capability to set up fabric in the data centre in three easy steps, enabling the physical switches to be centrally organized from the VMware VCenter,” Burns said. “This will save 98 per cent of deployment steps.”

With this release, SmartFabric Director provides these capabilities in a single data centre, but the plan, in the fairly short term, is to extend that.

“In the long run, it will support multiple data centres as well as the edge and the cloud,” Burns said. “It will support future NOS [Networking Operating Systems], including non Dell-EMC ones. It’s a long term roadmap, but enhancements here around scalability will continue on a quarterly basis.”

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