Dell’s ready to disrupt the networking industry with Open Networking

Networks are like human minds – they work better when open. For decades, the networking industry has been stuck in the mainframe era mentality with a proprietary, monolithic structure built for pre-virtualized, client-server implementations using chassis-based switches and is now crying out for disruption. We, at Dell, are “breaking out” of the traditions of networking and offering more flexibility to customers through open networking rather than embracing the status quo. We are confident that we can make a difference because we’ve done this before with PCs and servers, which puts us in the best position to disrupt the traditional networking industry.

Our vision for open networking is to expand our open ecosystem to stimulate innovation with best of breed, standards-based equipment, operating systems and applications for serving customers’ unique business needs. Open networking also provides more flexibility to the customers at a lower cost and deployment time. To realize the true promise of a software-defined data center, we are continuously investing in rapid innovations and industry partnerships.

In January, we inked a deal with Cumulus Networks to offer Cumulus® Linux® network OS as an option for our top-of-rack switches to provide flexibility to customers. We further extended our initiative by signing an agreement with Big Switch to deliver Switch Light™ OS to deliver next-generation SDN monitoring fabrics to customers. More recently, we strengthened this commitment by partnering with VMware and Cumulus Network to deliver the VMware NSX network virtualization platform with Cumulus® Linux® on our switches and offer more choice to customers.

These partnerships drive a new open ecosystem and help support new dynamics brought on by software-defined networking, virtual machine mobility, shifting networking patterns from North-South to East-West, cloud computing, resource pooling and the need for server-like automation. They also position us to enable rapid innovation and provide a range of next-generation SDN solutions through hardware and software disaggregation. In addition, customers can now choose among various industry-standard networking gear, network applications and network operating systems to meet their business needs and capabilities.

The effectiveness of these partnerships has been validated by the customer momentum we have experienced. Recently, Medallia, a global leader in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, selected our open networking solutions to enable faster networking speeds and improve its customer experience. Medallia enables global brands to capture customer feedback across web, social, mobile, and contact center channels and deliver insights to improve the customer experience – all in real time. Therefore it must process enormous amounts of data every second in order to give its customers complete visibility of the daily performance of their touch points, deliver actionable customer feedback, and resolve issues as they emerge. Medallia sought a more efficient approach to process data in real time with low latency, and selected our open networking solution for a fast, affordable and scalable solution.

What makes us very unique is that our open networking solutions sit between the two extremes of ODM “white-box” and proprietary “black box”. We offer customers choice.  Our Open Netorking solutions provide not only Capex savings, but also Opex savings in deployment and management. We provide value to our customers by providing the support of a trusted worldwide brand and expertise in pre- and post-sales scenarios including planning and deployment services.

We continue to expand our open networking initiative aggressively and disrupt the ~$13 billion data center networking market to provide our customers the best alternative – not just one way, but different paths to enabling the software-defined data center.

It may sound like a rather radical idea to disaggregate the traditional networking model. They also said that about us when we moved to disaggregate the mainframe model. And a very long time ago, they also said we’d never make it selling personal computers directly to customers.

“They” are wrong again.

About the Author: Tom Burns