Pluribus Networks has become the latest provider of an open source operating system to have its offerings distributed by Dell.
Dell will make the Netvisor operating system based on Linux available on the Dell Open Networking series of 10/40G switches.
Pluribus Networks CEO Kumar Srikantan says the shift to open networking platforms is all but inevitable, as IT organizations look to reduce their internal operating costs to be more cost-competitive with external cloud service providers.
“Legacy network vendors charge $100 a port and make 70 percent margins,” says Srikantan. “IT organizations today need to be able to get that number down to $50 a port.”
However, reducing the cost of the switch can’t come at the cost of any management functionality. What differentiates Pluribus, according to the CEO, is its software-defined network controller, which gives IT organizations a higher level of visibility required to manage their networking environments than proprietary networking software.
Pluribus joins the ranks of IP Infusion, Cumulus Networks, Big Switch Networks, and Midokura as a provider of open networking software running on Dell network hardware.
Dell has proposed that the time has come for the networking industry as a whole to standardize on a common set of open interfaces to facilitate adoption of open networking technologies.
Of course, Dell also still sells proprietary networking software in a networking market it entered primarily by acquiring Force 10 Networks. Coupled with its server and storage portfolio, Dell clearly sees extending its reach into the realm of networking as critical to competing with rivals such as HP and Cisco that have equally comprehensive IT infrastructure portfolios.
At the same time, Dell is also using its new-found status as a private company to enter new market segments at disruptive price points that in the case of networking are enabled by reliance on open source software.
The degree to which Dell and its open source allies can usurp Cisco’s dominance of the enterprise networking market remains to be seen. But given the fact that many web-scale companies have already adopted open source networking software running on white-box switches based on Intel servers or commodity processors, it’s only a matter of time before a significant portion of the data center market beyond web-scale follows suit to at least some degree.