Data networking switches have traditionally been huge boxes that “are about rigid networking, think mainframe,” says Arpit Joshipura, head of networking product management and marketing for Dell Force10 Networks. Dell is bringing a new, more flexible and less expensive vision to the market based on virtualizing the network to support a fabric of smaller “pizza box” switches with no hard boundaries either inside or between switches. It is positioning itself as a leader in next-generation, high-speed networking to meet the needs of the data explosion, he said in an interview in the SiliconAngle Cube from the Dell Storage Forum 2012.
Based on the Force10 technology, Dell’s Virtual Network Architecture (VNA) creates a redundant network fabric that can route traffic around failing components and allow it to take the fastest route available at the moment between application and user. It provides a plug-and-play fabric approach in which customers buy as much network as they need and can expand their network capacity simply by adding boxes.
From a customer standpoint, he said, this provides three advantages compared to the big switch boxes of the competition:
1. Purchase price is lower
2. It uses significantly less power – as low as 25% of the traditional chassis
3. It has a much smaller footprint and takes up less space in crowded data centers.
The Dell acquisition has been good for Force10. R&D investment has doubled and investment in Force10 in general has nearly doubled. The results are apparent both in the accelerated development schedule and market access. The blade switch in the S4810 10/40 Gig switch took nine months to develop from start to finish, with the result that Dell beat both Cisco and IBM to market with the first 40 Gig network switch. And the acquisition has put Force10 in the center of a strong converged architecture, which is the future in supporting Big Data, he said.
“Customer response has been fantastic.” The Force10 customer base has grown 43% in the last nine months, and it is adding 600 new customers per quarter to its installed base of 1,500 mid-to-high-end customers. “More than half of that customer base have bought more switches from us since the acquisition, for an above-market-average upgrade rate.”
Dell is now third in market share in the 10Gig Ethernet switch market. In the emerging 40 Gig market it is second to Cisco, with IBM third.
“In the high-end market, Dell’s value is to bring high performance networking to the mid-market in a virtualized package that simplifies the huge complexity of traditional networks,” he says. “We will continue to gain customers and market share.”