Dell open networking gets more 25 GbE switches, SD-WAN appliances

An expanded Dell open networking portfolio includes a high-performing switch for connecting data centers and a 25 GbE model with a new OS for managing network fabrics.

Dell EMC has added SD-WAN for the branch office to its open networking portfolio, while introducing faster switches that are most likely to appeal to cloud providers, carriers and large financial institutions.

Dell EMC unveiled this week several hardware options for companies willing to use SD-WAN software from Silver Peak Inc.VeloCloud Networks Inc. or Versa Networks. The hardware selection includes a Precision 5000 Series PC or PowerEdge server. The choice of hardware within the Dell open networking portfolio will depend on the amount of horsepower a company needs.

Dell EMC support is responsible for fixing problems with the hardware or software, even if one of the SD-WAN vendors is called in for assistance, said Jeff Baher, the executive director of networking at Dell EMC.

Dell EMC's strategy of one-vendor support for a multivendor product is different from most companies, which sell the SD-WAN software alone or running on their appliance.

"It is definitely a novel approach," Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC, said of the Dell open networking strategy. "This allows them to make a play in this hot and exploding market."

Indeed, revenues from SD-WAN infrastructure and services will rise nearly 70% a year to $8.05 billion in 2021, according to IDC. Companies moving business applications to public clouds and subscribing to software as a service are driving the booming SD-WAN market. The technology lowers the cost for companies connecting branch offices to the internet to reach cloud and SaaS applications.

Dell EMC boosts switching performance

Dell EMC's latest open switches include the 10/100 Gigabit Ethernet S4200-ON and the 25/100 GbE S5048 and S5148. Dell has switches at these speeds in its portfolio, but achieves better performance in the latest hardware through the use of Broadcom's most recent application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), dubbed Jericho.

The Broadcom ASIC provides Dell with the technology to significantly increase the buffer in the S4200-ON -- ON stands for open networking. Also, the chipset makes it possible to support a more extensive routing table than other products in the Dell open networking portfolio.

Therefore, the S4200-ON is better suited for handling east-west traffic within cloud computing and virtualized environments found in the mega-data centers of carriers, cloud providers and banks. The switch is also suitable for routing traffic between data centers, according to Dell.

Versatility in the S5148, S5048

The S5148 is unique in Dell's line of 25/100 GbE switches because it runs OS10 Enterprise Edition, which is the latest version of the vendor's network operating system.

New services within the NOS let network engineers manage a modern Layer 3 leaf-spine switching fabric as if it's a single unit, Baher said. To get that view, a network manager would go to the designated master switch in the fabric, call up its console and from there make universal configurations and firmware updates.

OS10 Enterprise Edition also provides discovery, so a switch added to the fabric would be provisioned automatically for quick availability, Baher said.

Dell's fabric services are best suited for large-scale data centers in which operators use homegrown or purchased tools that provide the advanced network automation and security not available in OS10 Enterprise Edition, Mehra said. "There are limitations with Dell's OS10."

The S5048 switch is for companies still running Dell OS 9 with 10 GbE connectivity. Those customers can deploy the S5048 and migrate when ready to the standard edition of OS10 and 25 GbE.

The S5048 and the S5148 have six 100 GbE ports and 48 25 GbE ports. The latter are backward-compatible to 10 GbE.

Shipments of 25 GbE ports have been rising fast. First released about a year ago, the number of port shipments has surpassed 200,000, a milestone that took 10 GbE ports roughly six years to reach, according to Crehan Research Inc., based in San Francisco. Driving demand for higher port speeds are big data applications and related analytics, the expanded use of mobile devices, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality applications, and network functions virtualization.

Dell's latest switches and OS10 Enterprise Edition, also called OS10.4, will be available before the end of the year. The open switches can also run operating systems from Dell partners, which include Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, IP Infusion or Pluribus Networks.

Companies can purchase the SD-WAN offerings today, except for VeloCloud. That is scheduled for release later in the year.

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