Dell Parries Cisco With SDN, Cloud Networking

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Dell launches a new top-of-rack switch, networking blades with gigabit connectivity and the official availability of OpenFlow SDN capabilities baked into the Force10 OS (FTOS). Dell's networking focus targets both the enterprise and Cisco's own recent offerings.

Dell_SDNDell Inc. is launching an assault on the next-gen data center with three major introductions: The Dell S4820T top-of-rack switch, designed for high speed networking, the Dell MXL 10/40GbE blade switches and the commercial availability of OpenFlow in Force 10 OS (FTOS).

The Dell S4820T, which is powered by FTOS, offers Layer 2 and Layer 3 capabilities unique for for cloud provider data centers and the expanding world of web-based applications within the enterprise. Dell has also aimed the appliance at LAN and SAN convergence with 40 gigabit uplink capabilities.

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The Dell MXL 10/40GbE blade also features FTOS and is "purpose-built" for the Dell PowerEdge M1000e chassis. It features many of the same capabilities that its top-of-rack cousin can provide, and when complemented with the Dell PowerEdge M I/O aggregator, customers can leverage the most out of their networking equipment without requiring major configuration upfront.

The secret sauce that ties it all together OpenFlow baked into the FTOS code base, currently available on the Dell's Z9000 and S4810 data center switches. Dell's primary focus with OpenFlow / FTOS / SDN is to offer an "unbiased" software-defined data center that can readily connect legacy environments to modern virtual and cloud applications, while laying the foundation for new apps and networking environments.

Dell attests its SDN technology is "fully compliant" with the latest OpenFlow controllers, like those from Dell's partner Big Switch Networks Inc., in addition to all standards-based controllers.

Dell's networking updates are eerily similar to Cisco Systems Inc.'s latest networking overhaul, which also focused on high-end gigabit switching and an expansion of Cisco's Open Network Environment (ONE) to support SDN. It seems both companies are on target to meet the impending inevitability of infrastructure demands. Amid the exponential growth in mobile traffic, (to say nothing of cloud services), the networking space will become one of the few hardware areas that continues to see growth and innovation -- a trend that Channelnomics confirmed as the "new normal" last October.

With a privatized Dell now in action, it's possible we'll see more more rapid and targeted hardware moves from the enterprise-focused company -- some even surprising. Dell's freedom from Wall Street will no longer restrict its ability to take risks in reshaping its business, a process that may have otherwise been shunned by investors and shareholders.

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