Dell Unveils High-End Multi-Rate Data Center Switch
Dell CEO Michael Dell speaking at a conference in San Francisco in 2013 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dell Unveils High-End Multi-Rate Data Center Switch

Latest switch puts 10G-100G Ethernet connectivity in 2U chassis

Dell unveiled an in-rack data center switch IT organizations can use to deliver varying levels of network throughput via multiple ports.

The Dell S6100-ON provides multi-rate connectivity spanning 10G to 100G Ethernet in a chassis designed to fit in a 2U rack space.

Configurable with QSFP28 and CXP ports, the switch is best suited for IT organizations looking to future-proof their network infrastructure for years to come, Amit Thakker, senior director for product line management at Dell Networking, said. It provides up to 32 ports for 100G; 64 ports for 40G; 128 ports for 10G; 128 ports for 25G or 64 ports for 50G.

“This switch is really about flexibility and investment protection,” said Thakker. “We’re providing up to 3.2 terabits of throughput in a 2U rack.”

While most IT organizations are still making the shift to 10G Ethernet, Thakker added that at the higher end of the data center switch market IT organizations are evaluating 25G, 40G, 50G and even 100G Ethernet options.

Scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2016, the Dell S6100-ON now represents the top of the Dell switch line up. Since acquiring Force 10 Networks in 2011, Dell has been aggressively bundling servers, storage and networking together in a drive to gain share at the expense of rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, both of which now bundle switches with servers inside both rack and blade servers.

In addition to offering its own network operating system, Dell has also been leading an open networking push via alliances with Cumulus Networks and Big Switch Networks. In general, Dell is hoping that enterprise IT organizations will emulate Web-scale companies that have opted to deploy their own white box switches. In the case of Dell, the commercial switch still exists, but the network operating system running can be based on open source software that serves to lower the total cost of networking in the data center.

The challenge that all three vendors face is that upgrades to networks, servers and storage don’t always occur in lockstep with one another. As such, even in an converged infrastructure environment network administers still exercise a fair amount of influence over switches that typically have life spans that range anywhere from two to five years. As a result, not only are vendor such as Cisco and HP a force to contend with, there is still a lot of networking gear from vendors such as Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks installed in the data center.

Of course, as networking, servers and storage become simpler to manage via a unified console, issues concerning who is in charge of what inside the data center will one day be broadly forced. In the meantime, there are still many IT organizations where the only thing servers, storage and networking have in common is that they happen to share the same rack.

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