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​Dell embraces open-source networking with new lines

Dell introduces numerous new networking services and 10G switches for high-end campus and data-center networking.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dell Networking took several steps forward by introducing new capabilities and platforms for campus and data-center networking.

Dell Networking OS10

Dell has its own Linux-based network switch operating system: OS10.


Yesterday, Dell Networking announced -- in partnership with Verizon, Big Switch Networks, Dell, and Red Hat -- that it had released the largest known network function virtualization (NFV) OpenStack cloud deployment across five of Verizon's US data centers.

Not resting on its laurels, today Dell announced that it's driving ahead with its Linux-based Operating System 10 (OS10) development. Underneath the base module is the Open Compute Project Switch Abstraction Interface, a platform is designed for large scale data centers. Dell is also integrating OS10 with open-source community projects including Open Compute Project (OCP) and Microsoft's Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC).

Linux-based network switches are old hat. Cumulus Networks, Open vSwitch, and Switch Light are only the latest Linux networking switches. Still, it's noteworthy that Dell is so fully embracing Linux in its hardware.

The Microsoft-sponsored SONiC project aims to open source everything needed to build fully functional networking software. SONiC is a collection of software packages/modules that can be installed with Linux on a network hardware switch, which makes it a complete, functional router. Dell has successfully integrated its OS10 base software to serve as a foundational element for SONiC.

To manage OS10, Dell is using Red Hat's Ansible DevOps tool. "Since OS10 runs in a native Linux environment; integrating it with Ansible Tower is quite straightforward," explained Tim Cramer, Red Hat's Senior Director of Ansible Engineering. "Customers can now easily and rapidly deploy Dell switches into their automated IT environment, helping to reduce operational costs while also enabling server-like agility in configuration management."

For load balancing, Dell uses F5's Application Delivery Controller. This enables load balancing over active-active clusters across network services for scale out deployments.

To bridge the gap between LANs and the wide area network (WAN), Dell has partnered with Silver Peak. This company provides software-defined WAN interconnects between the data center and branch offices across public and private clouds.

In addition to all these open-source moves, Dell -- as part of its One Network campus network -- has partnered with Aerohive to deliver a new cloud-based network management system. The co-branded solution incorporates Dell N-Series switches and Aerohive access points into Aerohive's HiveManager NG. With a customizable user-focused interface, this solution simplifies end-user access.

Besides all the new software, Dell also announced two new in-rack platforms optimized to accelerate 10G deployments

While built for different needs, the S4048T-ON and S6010-ON share these common attributes:

  • Designed to meet enterprise, mid-size and high-performance computing requirements;
  • ONIE-compliant to provide cloud and Web 2.0 customers an Open Networking environment with fully-tested and validated third-party operating systems;
  • Advanced features for VXLAN, larger tables and expanded buffering compared to other Dell models; and
  • Both switches will begin shipping in mid-May.


  • The Dell Networking S4048T is purpose-built 10GBase-T switch for copper-based server and storage connectivity to offer customers investment protection.
  • The switch supports numerous, high-capacity port configurations in a compact, 1RU form factor.


  • The Dell Networking S6010-ON is designed for demanding data center environments to provide optimum density and price point.
  • The Dell S6010-ON delivers line-rate performance with a non-blocking switching fabric, improved packet buffering and reduced oversubscription.

Dell hopes to gain traction in the growing 10GE market. In a statement, Alan Weckel, a Dell'Oro Group Ethernet switch analyst, said, "10 GE, specifically 10GBase-T, is going to ramp significantly in the enterprise as customers upgrade servers to 10 GE but also look for investment protection for their existing 1 GE infrastructure. Dell'Oro Group projects 10GBase-T shipment will nearly quadruple by 2017 driving much of the 10 GE growth over the next two years."

Dell is still not the first or even second name that comes to mind when it comes to high-end networking. Those honors go to Cisco and Juniper. But, as cloud and open-source continues to disrupt IT, Dell, which is moving into both the cloud and open source as fast as possible, has a puncher's chance of becoming a major networking power.

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