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Dell pushes open networking strategy with Big Switch Networks partnership

25 Apr 2014
Dell S6000 network switch

Dell has teamed up with software-defined networking (SDN) specialist Big Switch Networks in order to drive its vision of an open ecosystem for next-generation networking products.

The move will see Dell offering Big Switch's SDN operating system (OS) on select models of its Ethernet switch hardware, as well as reselling the firm's products such as its SDN controller applications.

Dell said that the partnership is intended to kick-start development of an open ecosystem for next-generation networking products, in order to offer customers an alternative to the vertically integrated proprietary solutions that have dominated data centre networking.

Tom Burns, vice president of Dell Networking, said the move will expand choice and capabilities for customers looking for best-of-breed Ethernet switch hardware, OS and SDN apps.

"Dell's push into open networking, and this announcement with Big Switch and other vendors, are great examples of original thinking and innovation coming from the new Dell, he said.

Starting from this quarter of 2014, Dell will start offering the Switch Light OS on its S4810 and S6000 series (pictured) top-of-rack switches, and also resell Big Switch's SDN controller applications, starting with the Big Tap Monitoring tool.

Switch Light OS is a thin switching software platform based on Open Network Linux (ONL), an open source initiative within the Open Compute Project.

Meanwhile, the Big Tap Monitoring application enables tapping of network traffic anywhere in order to security appliances or other network functions the customer may wish to deploy.

Douglas Murray, chief executive of Big Switch Networks, said that the partnership would also help to expand SDN from out of the massive corporate data centres and put it into the reach of a broader market.

"The early adopters of SDN were largely the hyperscale players. But with the advent of initiatives such as Open Networking from Dell, the path for all enterprises to enjoy the benefits of SDN is getting easier," he said.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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