News & Insights for the AI Journey|Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Dell Brings Multi-Rate Switching to the Datacenter 

Dell rolled out a series of "open networking" switches and platforms for software-defined datacenters this week designed to widened the data pipe to as much as 100-GbE switching speeds.

Dell also announced the addition to IP Infusion Inc., the software-defined networking specialist, to its list of open networking partners.

Dell said its Z9100 multi-rate fabric switch platform can be tuned from 10- to 100-GbE switching speeds, allowing datacenter network to operate up to at what amounts to high-performance computing speeds.

"The aim is to bring high-end [switching and networking] technology to the masses," Arpit Joshipura, Dell Networking's vice president of product management and strategy, said in an interview.

Joshipura stressed the growing need for flexible networks as datacenter in-rack bandwidth requirements soar an estimated five-fold over the next several years. Dell is also betting data warehouses will require multi-rate switching capabilities as enterprises ramp up efforts to leverage big data and other high-end workloads.

Hence, Dell's multi-rate fabric switch targets cloud, HPC and Web 2.0 applications requiring a range of switching rates in high-density environments. The platform is also tailored to big data analysis requiring high performance and low latency.

Dell also unveiled on Thursday (April 23) two other components of its open networking initiative: a 10/40-GbE "top-of-rack" switch targeting software-defined datacenters along with a 1/10-GbE switch aimed at cloud service providers operating in Linux and "open-source heavy" environments.

Dell said the switches were validated with third-party operating systems and network virtualization tools from Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, VMware and others.

Dell also said it has added IP Infusion to its roster of open networking partners. IP Infusion, Sunnyvale, Calif., recently announced a network operating system for datacenters that supports multiprotocol label switching (MPLS).

Joshipura said the partnership would create an "MPLS-as-a-service" capability so that a datacenter OS and other software could be loaded onto generic switches like Dell's fabric switch platform. The partners are targeting large enterprises with internal MPLS-based campus networks along with carriers and service providers with "reasonable scale needs," the partners said.

Dell datacenter deployment scenarios. Source: Dell Networking

Dell's open network deployment scenarios include combined fabric and in-rack switching in datacenters. It could then provide "L2/L3 campus networking" via Big Switch Networks' controller-based networking monitoring capability.

In another scenario IP Infusion's wide-area networking and MPLS functionality could be deployed to deliver a range of host private cloud, public cloud and web-based applications. The multi-rate switching network also could be fine-tuned in these deployments for big data analysis, high-performance workloads or other datacenter tasks, Joshipura explained.

Dell said its Z9100 fabric switch is currently in customer trials and is expected to be available during the second half of 2015. Its S3048 top-of-rack switch will be available in May. The S4048 switch that scales from 48 x 10GbE to 6 x 40GbE or 72 x 10GbE ports is available now.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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