Dell EMC's newest switches will come with its open network OS

The company will let customers buy the data-center switches with OS10 or add their own OS

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Dell's drive into open networking accelerated on Monday with the announcement of the first switches to ship with OS10, the company's network operating system that's based on open source.

At Dell EMC World in Las Vegas, the company introduced two data-center switches running OS10 Enterprise Edition, an enhanced version of the open-source OS that Dell announced early last year.

The software is based on technologies from the Linux Foundation and the Open Compute Project and is already available through an extended beta to customers who already have hardware. The Enterprise Edition is a complete software platform, including Dell's networking stack, but its open-source foundation means it can be extended with third-party software, said Jeff Baher, Dell EMC's executive director, networking.

Dell was one of the earliest of the big vendors supporting open networking, a movement to separate hardware from software and some software components from others. The idea is to prevent lock-in to proprietary equipment, operating systems and interfaces.

The company already sells switches that are compliant with ONIE (Open Network Install Environment), so customers can buy them without software and install third-party OSes from companies like Cumulus Networks and Big Switch Networks. The new gear is available that way, too.

OS10 is Dell's platform of the future, which over time will be the basis of all its network equipment and eventually computing and storage products, too. As the distinctions between those components blur, analysts say some enterprises and service providers will want a common OS to get the kind of flexibility that big cloud companies like Amazon and Google enjoy in their homegrown data-center infrastructure.

On Monday, the company announced the S5100-ON series, a line of in-rack switches based on OS10 with 25-Gigabit Ethernet ports. These are a match for the latest Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, which also have 25-Gigabit, the company said.

The 5100 line has 100-Gigabit Ethernet uplinks that are designed for fabrics that link racks in a data center for "east-west" network traffic. The 5100-ON series is expected to ship by the end of October, starting at approximately US$22,000 with OS10.

Dell EMC also introduced the S4100-ON series of OS10 top-of-rack switches designed for densely packed 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports or Fibre Channel interfaces at 8Gbps, 16Gbps or 32Gbps. The S4148U is a unified Ethernet and Fibre Channel switch to connect to EMC storage. The first models in the S4100-ON line are set to ship by the end of July, starting around $12,000 with OS10.

Also on Monday, Dell EMC unveiled the N1100-ON series of campus switches for small and medium-size environments. They will have available port configurations with Gigabit or 10-Gigabit Ethernet and can be used with Aerohive's HiveManager NG cloud-based management system. The N1100-ON series should ship by the end of July.

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