As the PC market continues to soften, Dell is broadening its product line to offer network switches and expanding its storage offerings.
The biggest direct seller of PCs said it will compete with Cisco Systems, 3Com and others, by selling its own line of network switches to small and mid-sized businesses.
In addition, Dell plans to release its first storage products that are compatible with Sun Microsystems' Solaris servers by the end of the year.
President and chief operating officer Kevin Rollins said that the company's customers have expressed interest in Dell providing the same value in network switches that it provides in servers, notebooks and desktops.
"They want the convenience of buying reliable, high-value network switches when they make their server and computer purchases," he explained.
Dell's entry into the switch market comes after the company had been selling other companies' networking products, such as switches from NetGear and Foundry Networks.
Rollins said that the Dell PowerConnect offering will initially include 16- and 24-port switches to network PCs and devices such as printers. The company estimates that small and mid-sized enterprises spent about $5.3bn on network switches last year.
The products will be sold in the US at first with a global roll out planned to follow soon after.
In an attempt to expand its storage interests, which had been based on software from Microsoft, Dell said it will release a storage area network product in the fourth quarter which can be linked to servers running Sun's Solaris operating system.
Although no details were disclosed, Dell officials said the company is also testing storage products that will work in IBM's AIX system as well as other Unix versions.
Dell has also been providing customers with wireless access products and Dell-branded caching and load-balancing servers. The company said it plans to continue to work with other firms to provide a range of networking products.
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