Dell steps into networking niche

Branching out its product line, the PC maker will begin selling network switches to small- and medium-sized businesses next month.

Dell Computer is getting into the networking business.

The PC maker said on Wednesday that it would begin selling network switches to small and medium-sized businesses in its third fiscal quarter, beginning in August. It will market the switches under the brand name PowerConnect.

Dell is no stranger to networking, as it also sells wireless local area network gear, as well as network storage and network appliance products for load balancing and caching files. However, the PowerConnect switch offerings mark another step toward supplying the entire suite of equipment needed for businesses, ranging from its PowerEdge servers to storage and nitty-gritty networking equipment, such as switches.

It's not surprising that the company, facing a drastically slowed market for PC sales, is looking to expand its product offerings to boost revenue. The addition of the new switches will grant the company the ability to add additional revenues from the hardware and related services.

Dell executives said the products also answer customer demand.

"Our customers have expressed interest in Dell providing the same value in network switches that we provide in servers, storage, notebooks and desktops," said Kevin Rollins, Dell's president and chief operating officer, in a statement released on Wednesday. "They want the convenience of buying reliable, high-value network switches when they make their server and computer purchases."

Product details were not released Wednesday. However, Dell said it would apply its usual strategy of aggressive pricing to the switches, claiming in its news release that the switches will provide "reliable performance at some of the most competitive prices in the industry".