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Dell signs bare-metal networking pact with Cumulus

January 31, 2014  

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Dell this week announced a reseller agreement with Cumulus Networks as its first partner in what it described as an “ecosystem to fill a critical gap in realizing the true promise of the software-defined data centre.”

As part of the agreement, the company will begin offering Cumulus Linux network OS as an option for Dell S6000 and S4810 top-of-rack switches.

“Networking is an industry crying out for disruption,” said Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking. “Networks are like human minds – they work better when open.”

To that end, the two companies said the announcement represents a “significant shift for the industry in that this will be the first time Dell offers bare-metal networking gear with a choice of operating system to its customers.”

As part of the agreement, Dell will also resell the Cumulus Linux network OS, running on the Dell Networking S6000, and the Dell Networking S4810 fixed configuration switches.

“As the shift away from networking vendors who enforce proprietary lock-in continues, a growing number of technology providers – Cumulus Networks and Dell among them – are moving towards an open approach that disaggregates hardware from software, and completely evolves the enterprise software supply chain in the process,” they said in a release.

“Industry standard bare metal hardware and open software networks are no longer just for the few mega-scale technology companies, and this new model lets players of all sizes scale their data centres faster, and in the simplest, most efficient manner possible, at a fraction of the cost.”

In an interview with Connections+, Arpit Joshipura, vice president of product marketing for Dell Networking, said the announcement at this point is not aimed at the “general enterprise sector,” but cloud providers, financial and Web 2.0 customers with IT staff skilled in Linux.

“The problem these guys have to solve are different,” he said. “They need large data centres with a large scaleout architecture that have different workloads and requirements compared to the traditional enterprise.”

Meanwhile, Brad Casemore, research director, DataCenter Networks at IDC, described the announcement as a market development that “we suspected might happen.

“Cloud-service providers and large-enterprise customers are thoroughly evaluating alternatives to their traditional data centre network infrastructure. Dell has chosen to position itself as a strong proponent of disaggregation of network hardware and software, while Cumulus Networks has struck a partnership with a major vendor to gain favorable exposure in more customer accounts.

“This announcement is emblematic of an eventful period in data centre networking, and such alliances will become increasingly important as developments such as network disaggregation reconfigure industry ecosystems.”

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