Dell is aiming at highly virtualised data centre environments with its new S6000 switch line-up that offers high bandwidth to handle traffic between growing numbers of virtual machines, plus support for VMware's NSX network virtualisation.
Set to be generally available from October, the Dell Networking S6000 range has twice the density and throughput of most other switches on the market, according to Dell.
Depending on the model, a Dell S6000 switch can be configured with up to 32 40Gbps Ethernet ports or 96 10Gbps Ethernet ports plus eight 40Gbps ports, all within a 1U rackmount chassis. Despite this, energy consumption is only about half that of existing switches, Dell claims.
The high level of throughput is required because of the changing patterns of data centre traffic due to virtual machines and new applications, and because comparatively few physical servers are hosting more and more virtual servers, according to Dominique Vanhamme, Dell's head of networking in EMEA.
"Traditionally, the majority of traffic was north-south between endpoints and servers, but now there is an explosion of east-west traffic, meaning there is a lot more traffic between the racks and even within the racks in the data centre, so the need for 10Gbps and 40Gbps within the rack is going up," he said.
The high bandwidth offered by the S6000 range - up to 2.56 terabits per second (Tbps) - enables organisations to use it to flatten out their network hierarchy in what is dubbed a leaf-spine architecture, according to Vanhamme, which is better able to handle the large amounts of traffic between servers driven by new workloads.
With an eye on this increasing amount of virtual machine traffic, Dell has also integrated support for network virtualisation into the S6000 range, along with automation and management features to make it easier for administrators to configure both physical and virtual networking.
The S6000 has hardware accelerated Layer 2 gateway functionality for use with VMware's NSX that was released by VMware at its VMworld event in San Francisco today. With this support, which Dell claims it is the first to offer, the S6000 is able to bridge traffic between virtualised and non-virtualised environments.
"With the S6000, we can act as a gateway between the physical world on the server side and the VMware NSX completely virtualised environment," said Vanhamme.
While NSX is specific to VMware vSphere environments, Vanhamme said that Dell is looking to support similar software defined networking (SDN) technologies found in other hypervisors and virtualisation software in the future.
Based on Dell's Force 10 operating system (FTOS), the S6000 also supports the Open Automation Framework, providing automation, Perl and Python scripting and programmatic management, plus support for the OpenFlow protocol.
Dell is also previewing enhanced functionality coming in version 2.0 of its Active Fabric Manager (AFM) for the S6000 line, which has closer integration with VMWare environments to remove the complexity of management across physical and virtual environments, according to Vanhamme.
"If you look at a row of racks full of new blade servers, you have to physically make all those connections and then put the virtual connections together. AFM helps you to do that - it brings the mapping between the virtual machines and virtual LANs up to the physical cabling level, and provides a sleek design tool for point and click management," he said.
Pricing for the Dell Networking S6000 has yet to be disclosed.
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