Dell Launches SDN-Enabled Fabric Solutions

Dell has announced new additions to its networking portfolio, with new Active Fabric solutions for SDN-enabled designs, next-generation management software – Dell Active Fabric Manager, and the Dell Networking S5000 modular LAN/SAN switching platform.

“We’re challenging conventional wisdom with new products and solutions designed to accelerate our customers’ migration to virtualized and cloud data center environments,” said Tom Burns, vice president and general manager, Dell Networking. “We’re excited about these new offerings and their ability to simplify operations, boost performance and improve economics.”

Dell Active Fabric

Dell Active Fabric is a any-to-any multipath network architecture for virtualized data centers and private clouds. Active Fabric solutions flatten the traditional data center network architecture using high-density and low-latency, fixed-form factor 10/40GbE switches that can reach hyperscale proportions. As a logical extension to this, SDN (software defined networking) delivers a software abstraction layer that is designed to enable open programmability and make infrastructure flexible and adaptable to different customer environments. The Dell approach to SDN encompasses networking virtualization overlays (NVO), OpenFlow and legacy interface capabilities.

Dell Active Fabric supports NVOs using Microsoft, VMware and OpenStack hypervisors, Open Flow-based controllers from vendors such as Big Switch Networks, and legacy programmatic interfaces including Telnet/CLI, TCL, REST, SNMP, Perl and Python scripting.  Features include 10GbE and 40GbE L2/L3 multipath fabrics, OpenFlow support, and LAN/SAN convergence using iSCSCI, Fibre Channel (FC), and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). It is a purpose-built solution for virtualized, converged, and SDN environments.

“Dell Active Fabric networking technology is leading edge, providing 40G connectivity to our storage fabric, and 10G switching for east/west traffic,” said Kevin Dunn, vice president for Business Information Services – Infrastructure and Operations at First Command Financial Services. “It gives us the ability to move workloads across our Dell infrastructure quickly and easily, maximizing our hardware utilization and increasing the value of our investments.”

The Dell Active Fabric Manager is a software tool that automates the tasks associated with planning, designing, building and monitoring fabrics. It features a design wizard for simplifying the mapping process, automated provisioning, validation and configuration, and it enables easy integration by abstracting the fabric as a single entity.

Dell S5000 Switch

The Dell Networking S5000 is a 1U top-of-rack 10/40GbE switch equipped with native FC and FCoE capabilities. The S5000 accommodates four modules allowing customers to populate a single module and add as necessary instead of buying all four modules at once. It has a maximum of 64 x 10GbE ports, or 48 x Ethernet/FC ports with 16 x 10GbE ports. With its modularity and system design it can be easily upgraded in the future without sacrificing existing infrastructure equipment, and it has complete support for iSCSI, RoCE, NAS, FCoE and FC fabric services, all on the same platform.

“We’re interested in the S5000 as its first switch we’ve seen with these capabilities in a 1U top-of-the-rack form factor,” said Maurizio Davini, CTO , IT Center, University of Pisa Italy. “This is very important for our Datacenter network configuration. We also like the modular aspect so we can scale as we need, while saving CapEx and OpEx in the meantime.”

“Networking professionals need solutions that solve real business problems today, and SDN, while very promising, is still very nascent,” said Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst of IT Infrastructure and Networking at Enterprise Strategy Group. “Dell Networking is expanding its product line to introduce offerings into the market that tackle today’s immediate needs while enabling organizations to take advantage of future developments.”

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About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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  1. Hey John! Thanks for the article on the new Dell Active Fabric. It should provide some versatility for companies. We are new here and want to make ourselves available to any one who is looking for IT gear. We hope to become a bigger part of the community here!