Dell Expands Networking Portfolio

New gear debuts at Interop as Dell scales up its networking efforts.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 10, 2011
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Dell is announcing a series of new networking products at the Interop trade show in Las Vegas this week. Among the new solutions is a home grown switching product that provides new virtualization capabilities to Dell customers. While Dell does OEM different parts of its networking portfolio from other vendors including Juniper Networks, the new PowerConnect M8024-k Ethernet switch is a Dell developed technology.

Larry Hart, Senior Director, Marketing at Dell Networking told InternetNews.com that the M8024-k can support up to 24 ports of 10 GbE. The new switch also supports Dell's virtual NIC technology, called NPAR, for NIC portioning

NPAR enables an IT administrator to carve up the physical NICs on the switch, providing more control and scalability. Different service levels and policies can be set for the different virtual NICs, which Hart noted can be a real benefit for virtualization traffic.

The M8024-k also provides a simple switch mode for easier provisioning. Hart noted that when the simple switch mode is activated, the LAG (Link Aggregation Group) connections are automatically provisioned.

"One of the basic concerns of a server administrator is which VLAN is my server sitting on," Hart said. "We provide a Web interface that allows them to drag and drop VLANs, so they can have the right VLAN with the right server."

In terms of supported standards, Hart noted that Dell is backing the TRILL standard to help create flatter networks and avoid the difficulties spanning tree.

"We are an advocate of flat networks and we believe it has opportunities both in the cloud and on the campus," Hart said.

Dell is also testing out the OpenFlow approach for flatter networks with a demonstration at Interop. OpenFlow is an emerging technology approach that originated in academia but is now beginning to transition for enterprise and data center use cases.

"We believe there is a future state in which a centralized control plane that provides for improved management experience will find its way into the fabric," Hart said.

For those networks that are in the process of moving from 1 GbE to 10 GbE, Dell is rolling out its B-T124x switch. The B-TI24x provides 24 dual-speed 1 GbE and 10 GbE ports. Moving from 1 GbE to 10 GbE is not always an easy task, which is why Dell has professional services in that area.

Hart noted that Dell's acquisition of Perot Systems has enabled Dell to provide advanced capabilities to help enterprises understand their traffic flows and networking requirements. Dell acquired Perot in 2009 for $3.9 billion.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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