Dell has demonstrated game-changing support for open networking by becoming the first global end-to-end technology company to provide customers including cloud providers and Web 2.0 companies a choice of third-party operating systems, tailoring networks for their specific application needs.

In this effort, Dell announced a re-seller agreement with Cumulus Networks – maker of the first Linux operating system for bare-metal networking devices – to support a new disaggregated networking model for its fixed-configuration switches.

Dell’s vision of the new data centre networking model is an open ecosystem in which customers can choose among various industry-standard networking gear, network applications and network operating systems to meet their business needs.

“For the past 20 years, data centre networks were a three-tier proprietary hierarchy built for pre-virtualised, client-server implementations using chassis-based switches,” says Brad Pulford, Dell enterprise solutions group director.

New dynamics brought on by software-defined networking, virtual machine mobility, shifting networking patterns from North-South to East-West, cloud computing, resource pooling and the need for server-like automation led Dell to help pioneer an Ethernet fabric model using fixed-form factor switches.

Industry analysts at Gartner cite:
* Ethernet fabric is best-positioned to address the demands of simplifying and automating physical switch networks encountered by network professionals in the immediate future.
* Newer small form factor core devices can enable network managers to reduce capital costs by 30% to 70%, and save 30% or more on operations expenses, compared with chassis-based switches.

The disaggregated networking model is a further step in Dell innovation on the software side. Benefits and value of this networking model include:
* Best-of-breed networking for workloads, application and other networking needs including orchestration, automation and monitoring;
* Consistent compute and networking with a common deployment and operational model; and
* Leverage of open source data centre solutions with rapid standards-based innovation.

Dell announced a reseller agreement with Cumulus Networks as its first partner in an ecosystem to fill a critical gap in realising the true promise of the software-defined data centre.

“Dell will begin offering Cumulus Linux network OS as an option for its Dell Networking S6000 and S4810 top-of-rack switches,” adds Pulford.

Dell and Cumulus Networks create the following customer benefits:
* Fast – High-capacity fabrics, unprecedented price-performance, rapid innovation;
* Easy – Simplified network automation, consistent tools for network and compute, flexible solutions; and
* Affordable – helping lower operational and capital expenditures, breaking free from vendor lock-in, joining a large ecosystem of Linux applications.

Dell provides the support of a trusted brand including:
* Award-winning Ethernet switches with modern, fixed-form factor architectures;
* Complete data centre solution with common acquisition, deployment and operational model from single vendor for server, storage and networking – global distribution and fulfilment;
* Global services with a single point of contact and accountability; and
* Networking expertise in pre- and post-sales scenarios including planning, deployment and support services.

“This is a great example of innovation coming from the new Dell. Networking is an industry crying out for disruption. We’ve done this before with PCs and servers, putting us in the best position to offer a choice of network operating systems,” says Tom Burns, VP and GM, Dell Networking.

“Networks are like human minds – they work better when open.”

“Dell is fundamentally changing the nature of the networking business, and this partnership with Cumulus Networks represents a definitive step towards disaggregating hardware and software,” says JR Rivers, co-founder and CEO of Cumulus Networks.

“In this new open, multi-vendor ecosystem that’s becoming all the more prevalent, the customer finally gets to choose exactly the components they need to build the software-defined data centre of the future without having to worry about vendor lock-in.”