Dell advances open-networking initiative, announces new pact

  • Initiative disrupts traditional networking switch model, enables rapid innovation
  • Signs strategic agreement with Big Switch Networks to expand open ecosystem

Dell advances open-networking initiative, announces new pactDELL Inc has announced plans to advance its open-networking initiative which it claimed redefines traditional networking switch models to help customers develop future-ready data centres.
The company announced a reseller agreement with software-defined networking (SDN) player Big Switch Networks to extend its vision of a new, disaggregated model for networking hardware and software.
For decades, the networking industry has been stuck in the mainframe era mentality with a proprietary, monolithic structure built for pre-virtualised, client-server implementations using chassis-based switches, Dell said in a statement.
The shift towards SDN in the data centre represents the most transformative architectural trend delivering enhanced network agility, choice and optimised network operations for customers.
Open networking contributes to the significant disruption occurring within the industry to more easily and efficiently deploy, monitor and adjust network services and performance, Dell said.
Dell’s agreement with Big Switch Networks helps deliver next-generation SDN fabrics and fills a critical gap in realising the true promise of the software-defined data centre.
Dell will offer Big Switch Networks’ Switch Light OS (operating system) on Dell Networking’s Ethernet switching portfolio, starting with the S4810 and S6000 series.
Dell will also offer Big Switch Networks’ production-ready SDN controller applications starting with the Big Tap Monitoring, which it said was an innovative new SDN-based network monitoring solution that unlocks hidden customer value and helps solve an age-old, costly networking challenge.
Open-networking initiative
Dell said it is driving a new open ecosystem that stimulates innovation with best of breed, standards-based network equipment, networking operating systems and network applications to serve customers unique business needs.
Benefits and value of the open networking model include:

  • Best-of-breed networking for workloads, application and other networking needs including orchestration, automation and monitoring;
  • Consistent view across data centre resources with a common deployment and operational model; and
  • Rapid standards-based innovation and availability of abundant open source data center solutions.

Alternative to ‘white box/ black box’ switching
Today’s networking offers exist at the end of two extremes, Dell said.
One extreme is ‘white-box’ or ‘bare-metal’ switching which is simply a box where customers add an OS and other software, implement and service it. The other extreme is ‘black box’ switching where everything is supplied by a single provider. This group includes brand name, traditional vendors.
Dell’s open networking sits between these extremes by offering another way to lower traditional switching hardware capital expenditure benefits with potential upside of having better operation costs than the white box option, the company said.
Dell said it provides value and differs from many white box vendors by providing the support of a trusted worldwide brand including:

  • Dell-branded, validated, tested and supported Ethernet switches with modern, fixed-form factor architectures;
  • Complete data centre solution with common acquisition, deployment and operational model from single vendor for server, storage and networking – global distribution and fulfillment;
  • Global services with accountability; and
  • Networking expertise in pre- and post-sales scenarios including planning, deployment and support services.

Dell expects to begin offering switches with Big Switch Networks Switch Light operating system and the Big Switch Networks Big Tap Monitoring Fabric controller in the second quarter of 2014.
Related Stories:
Dell's journey beyond the PC
Software-defined networks still have some way to go
Dell unveils new SDN-enabled fabric solutions
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