Dell Switches Support NSX, Unify Virtual/Physical Networking

Cisco wannabes Dell and HP (who will be covered in tomorrow’s issue) made announcements at this week’s VMworld event, which has featured the introduction of VMware’s network virtualization platform, NSX, which also appears to be a competitor to Cisco’s software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined data center (SDDC) aspirations. There are a number of Dell Networking-related announcements, including the S6000 Data Center Switching Platform, top-of-rack 1RU switches, which doubles 10/40GbE densities and throughput while lowering energy consumption by up to 50%, supports network virtualization and software-defined networks to bridge the boundaries of physical and virtual environments, includes support for the VMware NSX controller for VMware vCenter deployments, and integrates virtualization and automation features to scale and simplify virtual infrastructure through the Dell Open Automation framework across all Dell Networking products.

The unification of the physical and virtual networking in the data center is an area that the industry has not yet solved, said Arpit Joshipura, VP of Product Marketing, Dell Networking. “This is a step towards that.”

Virtual environments are expanding while physical footprints remain constant, resulting in massive density increases in servers and storage, said the company. Networks need to keep up, and that’s what inspired the S6000. It can help customers unify virtualized and non-virtualized IT elements, providing a gateway to a software-defined enterprise.

It will be imperative for organizations to have visibility across both the virtualized and physical network environment to help accelerate the adoption of Network Virtualization technologies, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, in a prepared statement. “The Dell S6000 is tightly integrated with VMware solutions to enable a holistic view of the network  environment that will enable faster troubleshooting and more effective provisioning.”

In addition to the TOR S6000, Dell also previewed Active Fabric Manager (AFM) 2.0 enhancements specifically for VMware environments, which will introduce command line interface functionality for VMware vSphere Distributed Switch. This will allow customers to configure both physical and virtual fabric switches with common design templates and industry-standard command line syntax.

On the storage front, Dell announced Compellent vSphere Client Plug-in 2.0 and EqualLogic Virtual Storage Manager for VMware 4.0, offering customers seamless integration with vSphere 5.5. The company said the new releases enable users to manage and provision storage, and protect and recover VMs using snapshot and replication schedules with the management of multiple storage arrays from a single VMware vSphere Web Client interface. Dell also is rolling out VMware vCOPs support for its storage arrays this year.

Dell may be taking a beating for its dependence upon the commodity x86 market as the efforts to go private continue, but regardless of the means, the company has made impressive gains in the server (just edged out by HP for top spot in 2Q sales), storage (2Q leader in terms of capacities shipped), and networking (#3 for overall market share in the Dell’Oro Q1 2013 L2/L3 Ethernet market share report) markets. According to an  Infonetics Research survey of 210 enterprises in North America, Dell is in a battle with HP and IBM for second place behind Cisco in the enterprise network equipment market. Joshipura said networking revenue is up more than 19% year over year, with 100% growth in the data center.

Joshipura said Dell is seeing a lot of interest from the midmarket for a middle of row switch solution. It’s interesting how the S6000 can be deployed in a relatively flat network for midsized companies, agreed IDC said research director Brad Casemore in a recent interview. “It could even serve as a core switch for midmarket organizations that haven’t been able to afford this kind of performance before.”

Looking ahead, Joshipura said the company’s strategy has been to use networking to enable what he calls the next generation of computing, more of a software-defined enterprise, with a focus more on new, not legacy, applications. “We are one of the few companies at dell that can break the boundary between servers, storage, networking, customer experience and software… we have all the pieces in house. As these next-gen compute blocks come in and move networking more to the end… we just have to accelerate product offerings and build on that.”


S6000 Feeds & Speeds:

-deployed as 32 40GbE ports or 96 10GbE ports plus 8 40GbE ports in 1RU, the S6000 can support high-density compute racks in top-of-rack position, or provide network connectivity for multiple racks in end-of-row or middle-of-row configurations;

provides up to 2.56Tbps performance, twice that of similar competitive products in a standard 1RU -form factor;

-Fresh Air capable and validated;

-supports network virtualization and SDN features including hardware-accelerated layer 2 gateway functionality for use with VMware NSX; and,

-supports OpenFlow for controller-based applications; Bare Metal Provisioning (BMP) for rapid and automated deployments; Virtual Server Networking (VSN) for automated VM mobility and VLAN configuration; and Perl and Python scripting for maximum programmability and interworkings with development operations (DevOps).

Availability is scheduled for the fiscal third quarter 2013.


DISCLAIMER: Dell is a client of WordSlingers Ink, a sister company of IT Trends & Analysis, and my investment portfolio includes Dell shares.


Author: Steve Wexler

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