Dell unveils fabric switch, SDN controller

Products designed to scale, automate OpenStack clouds

Dell this week rolled out products designed to help customers build and scale cloud environments.

Dell z9500

Dell Z9500

The new gear includes the Dell Z9500 fabric switch and the Active Fabric Controller software for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). Together, the products are intended to provide data centers with the scale, automation and orchestration necessary to transition to virtualized cloud infrastructures.

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The Dell Z9500 Layer 2/3 switch is a fixed form factor device that is designed to address 10G/40G aggregation in data centers and enterprise LAN cores. It is based on Broadcom’s Trident II chipset, takes up 3 RUs, and features 10Tbps of throughput. Port densities are 528 10G and 132 40G.

Dell says the Z9500 features five times the density per RU and one half the latency of its previous generation switches, such as the Z9000. On the competitive front, it follows Cisco’s introduction of the Nexus 9504, which supports 144 40G and 576 10G ports in 7 RUs.

The Z9500 features licensing for incremental growth of 40G from 36 and 84 ports, up to 132 ports, Dell says. This is intended for small scale data centers looking to increase fabric capacity as compute demand grows.The SDN controller, which Dell calls the Active Fabric Controller, is software that runs on an x86 server. It’s designed to configure and deploy networking functionality in cloud and XaaS environments, and is targeted at enterprise SDN and service provider NFV OpenStack deployments.  

The controller is intended to provide on-demand virtualized network services in OpenStack clouds with workload and policy awareness. It allows for insertion of service appliances including firewall, load balancing and wide area network optimization, common virtualized services in NFV implementations.

Pricing for the Dell Z9500 fabric switch starts at $136,000. It will be available in April. Dell Active Fabric Controller will be available in the second quarter of 2014.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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