Dell is looking to simplify campus networks by offering new kit that enables customers to collapse the traditional multi-tier model into a much simpler architecture, with a single pane of glass to manage the entire infrastructure.
Set to be available from October, Dell's new campus networking products comprise the Dell Networking C9010 Network Director switch and the Dell Networking C1048P Rapid Access Node switch, which are designed to work together as a logical network tier stretching from core to access nodes.
Dell has managed to achieve this by making each of the C1048P access nodes serving the network endpoints appear from a logical perspective as if it were actually a linecard fitted inside the core network switch, according to Dominique Vanhamme, head of networking for Dell EMEA.
"All of a sudden, this removes tons of complexity, in terms of management and configuration, but also in terms of deployment," Vanhamme told V3.
This setup means that the C1048P nodes receive their configuration and software updates centrally from the C9010 Network Director, greatly simplifying both the initial deployment, as well as ongoing maintenance and operations.
In addition, it removes the separation between wired and wireless networks that has traditionally existed in network architectures, according to Vanhamme.
"You can take your wireless access points, and because the whole network is Power-over-Ethernet or PoE+ enabled, you can just plug your access point into the Rapid Access Node, and put your wireless controller next to the Network Director, and all of a sudden you have central wireless capability all down the network," he said.
The C9010 Network Director has been designed to serve as a building block for scaling out a campus network. When combined with enough Rapid Access Node switches, it can support up to 4,000 users, according to Dell, and customers can scale in increments of 4,000 simply by adding another C9010 unit.
However, the Network Director can also be used with existing edge switches, to protect customer investment, as well as with the new C1048P Rapid Access Node hardware.
"We know that we have to incorporate and integrate existing switches and infrastructure from the usual competitors, and our own legacy products, so customers can put more capacity at the core [with the C9010] and keep the edge as it is, and that's what we believe will be the most common scenario," Vanhamme said.
The C9010 itself is a modular 8U rack-mount unit, with slots for up to 10 line card modules and two route processor modules (RPM). The line card options currently include 10Gbps Ethernet with 24 ports or 40Gbps with six ports, but a 100Gbps option is in the pipeline, according to Dell.
Meanwhile, the C1048P is a 1U chassis supporting 48 ports at up to 1Gbps, each with PoE+ capability.
Dell also said that existing N-series switches can be upgraded to the same capabilities as the C1048P via a software download, due to be delivered in the near future.
In a separate announcement, Dell also unveiled a new addition to its data centre switch portfolio.
Coming early in 2016, the Dell Networking S6100-ON is billed as the first multi-rate modular in-rack switch in the industry, supporting line rates of 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100Gbps.
Delivered as a 2U top-of-rack enclosure, the S6100-ON can support up to 32 ports at 100Gbps, 64 ports at 40 or 50Gbps, and 128 ports at 10 or 25Gbps.
This capability is designed to support a growing need for different connection speeds, according to Dell, with most servers continuing to use 10Gbps while some heavy workload systems get a 25Gbps connection.
The S6100-ON supports Dell Networking OS 9, but that ON suffix for "open networking" means that customers are also free to install other network platforms, such as Cumulus Linux.
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