Dell advances open networking initiative, expands program with addition of big switch networks

Dell has announced plans to advance its open-networking initiative.

May 9, 2014
  • Dell’s open-networking initiative disrupts traditional networking switch model, enables rapid innovation and customer choice through hardware and software disaggregation
  • Dell signs strategic agreement with Big Switch Networks to expand its open ecosystem to provide customer choice for networking hardware and software
  • Dell offers alternative to “white-box” switching with Dell-branded, validated and integrated systems, global scale, logistics, and enterprise-class services
  • Clemson University enthusiastic about potential industry benefits

Dell has announced plans to advance its open-networking initiative which redefines traditional networking switch models to help customers develop future-ready data centres. Dell announced a reseller agreement with software-defined networking (SDN) pioneer 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-virtualized, client-server implementations using chassis-based switches. “The shift towards SDN in the data center represents the most transformative architectural trend delivering enhanced network agility, choice and optimized network operations for customers”, says Brad Pulford, Dell enterprise solutions group director. “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 and Big Switch Networks Help IT Embrace Open Networking

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 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 – an innovative new SDN-based network monitoring solution unlocking hidden customer value and helping solve an age-old, costly networking challenge.

Dell with Big Switch Networks’ Big Tap Monitoring will introduce a powerful, SDN-enabled fabric monitoring solution that empowers tapping network traffic everywhere and delivering it to security and other appliances to:

  • Expand choice and capabilities for customers looking for best-of-breed Ethernet switch hardware, OS and SDN apps;
  • Enable a range of next-generation SDN solutions; and
  • Realise operational simplification for management, control and policies.

This combined Dell and Big Switch Big Tap Monitoring solution is a strong candidate for an enterprise’s initial SDN deployment as it operates on the monitoring network and can be deployed incrementally.

Dell Open Networking Initiative

Dell 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 centre solutions.

Dell’s Alternative to “White Box/Black Box” Switching

Today’s networking offers exist at the end of two extremes. One extreme is “white-box” or “bare-metal” switching which is just that – simply a box with customers on their own to 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 better-than-“white box” operational costs.

Dell provides value customers want 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 fulfilment;
  • Global services with accountability; and,
  • Networking expertise in pre- and post-sales scenarios including planning, deployment and support services.

Availability

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.