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Dell names former Cisco exec to lead networking

Dario Zamarian will be Dell's first VP for networking, possibly signaling an increased focus on the area

By , IDG News Service
September 23, 2010 02:51 PM ET

IDG News Service - Dell has hired Cisco Systems veteran Dario Zamarian to lead its networking business, naming him as its first vice president dedicated to that division.

Zamarian has joined Dell as vice president and general manager of the networking division, the company announced on Thursday. Zamarian worked at Cisco for six years, most recently as vice president of systems and network management.

Networking has been a fairly small part of Dell's business so far, but the company has become more active in this area as it gears up to compete with the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Cisco in supplying all parts of a data center. The appointment of a vice president to lead networking may signal an accelerated push into this arena. In slightly more than a year, Dell has signed deals to resell network equipment from Juniper Networks, Brocade Communications and wireless LAN vendor Aruba Networks. The company also has a line of homegrown LAN equipment, which carries the PowerConnect brand.

Darren Thomas, who had been leading both the storage and networking businesses at Dell, will continue to run the storage division.

Dell's strength has traditionally been in PCs and servers, but the company has been trying to build up its portfolio in storage and networking, the other two big pieces in the data center puzzle. It failed in a bid to buy high-end storage vendor 3Par earlier this year after HP won a dramatic bidding war with a US$2.4 billion final offer. At least one analyst has speculated that Dell might try to acquire Brocade, a storage networking player that itself got into Ethernet LANs in 2008 by acquiring Foundry Networks.

Networking traditionally has been a commodity business at Dell, but virtualization and cloud computing have made the network a critical piece of a converged data center architecture, said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jon Oltsik.

"Now they have to have some network expertise and network management expertise just to build the kinds of bigger data centers that they're going after," Oltsik said. The appointment of Zamarian signals that Dell is acting to make this a reality, he said.

The Dell announcement marked the second time this week that a midlevel executive from Cisco, the dominant enterprise networking vendor, has left to join a rival company in a high-level role. On Monday, Polycom announced that Joseph Burton, former chief technology officer for unified communications at Cisco, had joined Polycom as chief strategy and technology officer.

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