Dell has announced plans to advance its open networking initiative which redefines traditional networking switch models to help customers develop future-ready data centres. Dell announced a reseller agreement with software-defined networking (SDN) pioneer Big Switch Networks to extend its vision of a new, disaggregated model for networking hardware and software.

For decades, the networking industry has been stuck in the mainframe era mentality with a proprietary, monolithic structure built for pre-virtualised, client-server implementations using chassis-based switches.

“The shift towards SDN in the data centre represents the most transformative architectural trend delivering enhanced network agility, choice and optimised network operations for customers,” says Brad Pulford, Dell enterprise solutions group director. “Open networking contributes to the significant disruption occurring within the industry to more easily and efficiently deploy, monitor and adjust network services and performance.”

Dell’s agreement with Big Switch Networks helps deliver next-generation SDN fabrics and fills a critical gap in realising the true promise of the software-defined data centre. Dell will offer Big Switch Networks’ Switch Light OS on Dell Networking’s Ethernet switching portfolio, starting with the S4810 and S6000 series.

Dell will also offer Big Switch Networks’ production-ready SDN controller applications starting with the Big Tap Monitoring – an innovative new SDN-based network monitoring solution unlocking hidden customer value and helping solve an age-old, costly networking challenge.

Dell with Big Switch Networks’ Big Tap Monitoring will introduce a powerful, SDN-enabled fabric monitoring solution that empowers tapping network traffic everywhere and delivering it to security and other appliances to:
* Expand choice and capabilities for customers looking for best-of-breed Ethernet switch hardware, OS and SDN apps;
* Enable a range of next-generation SDN solutions; and
* Realise operational simplification for management, control and policies.

This combined Dell and Big Switch Big Tap Monitoring solution is a strong candidate for an enterprise’s initial SDN deployment as it operates on the monitoring network and can be deployed incrementally.

Dell is driving a new open ecosystem that stimulates innovation with best of breed, standards-based network equipment, networking operating systems and network applications to serve customers unique business needs. Benefits and value of the open networking model include:
* Best-of-breed networking for workloads, application and other networking needs including orchestration, automation and monitoring;
* Consistent view across data centre resources with a common deployment and operational model; and,
* Rapid standards-based innovation and availability of abundant open source data centre solutions.

Today’s networking offers exist at the end of two extremes. One extreme is “white-box” or “bare-metal” switching which is just that – simply a box with customers on their own to add an OS and other software, implement and service it. The other extreme is “black box” switching where everything is supplied by a single provider. This group includes brand name, traditional vendors.

Dell’s open networking sits between these extremes by offering another way to lower traditional switching hardware capital expenditure benefits with potential upside of better-than-“white box” operational costs.

Dell provides value customers want and differs from many “white box” vendors by providing the support of a trusted worldwide brand including:
* Dell-branded, validated, tested and supported 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 accountability; and,
* Networking expertise in pre- and post-sales scenarios including planning, deployment and support services.

“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,” says Tom Burns, vice-president and GM, Dell Networking.

“We’re seeing tremendous initial customer interest, especially among certain verticals such as large financials, Web 2.0 and mobile service providers. It’s drawing Dell Networking into additional business discussions where many customers may not have considered Dell before.”

“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,” says Douglas Murray, CEO of Big Switch Networks. “The joint solutions coming from the Dell and Big Switch partnership will bring hyperscale data centre design and choice to a broader audience.”

“The future is SDN-based with open software and hardware. We need a practical way to get from here to there,” says Jim Bottum, CIO, Clemson University, one of the country’s most selective public research universities.

“Currently, we purchase Dell and Big Switch Networks products independently. Having them team for a fully-integrated, tested and supported solution is ideal. To me, it’s a great example of the new Dell investing in research and development to help us bridge the gap between traditional networking and SDN.”`