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Dell-VMware-Cumulus package NSX, bare metal, Linux OS

Dell will resell VMware's NSX network virtualization and offers a network reference architecture for Dell switches, Cumulus Linux and NSX.

Dell, VMware and Cumulus Networks have partnered to deliver three-way integration between VMware NSX network virtualization and Dell bare-metal switches with Cumulus Networks' Linux-based network operating system.

Dell will resell NSX as part of the integration effort, and its new converged infrastructure portfolio for midmarket enterprises will have the network virtualization technology baked in.

Dell and VMware have developed a network reference architecture for combining Dell's bare-metal data center switches running Cumulus Linux with VMware's NSX software, giving enterprises an integrated SDN overlay and physical network underlay.

"Prior to this validated design if you wanted to do something like this, you could, but there was no reference architecture to build to," said Andrew Lerner, research director at Gartner Inc. "In terms of specific configurations and specific ways to architect this together from a hardware and software perspective, you had so many different options at each intersection point."

Dell's integration with Cumulus gives enterprises the lower costs associated with bare-metal switching, and its integration with NSX gives users the agility associated with network virtualization, Lerner said. Beyond the network reference architecture, Dell will offer support for all three parts of this networking stack.

With Cumulus Linux on the switches, enterprises will benefit from programmatic provisioning of the Dell switches. "This is now the server admin's way of doing things, rather than the CLI-based network admin's way of doing things," said Arpit Joshipura, vice president of Dell Networking. And the integration with NSX will ensure that Dell's switches can connect bare-metal server workloads into the logical NSX network. Also, Dell's switches will be able to identify and apply quality of service to workloads tagged by NSX as elephant or mouse flows, Joshipura said.

Dell-VMware NSX integration in converged infrastructure

At VMworld, Dell unveiled its own converged infrastructure product for midmarket companies with VMware's NSX baked in for network virtualization. In addition to NSX, the Dell converged product includes Dell MXL blade switches, S4810 top of rack switches, Dell PowerEdge M2000e server blade chassis and Dell iSCSI storage arrays.

"You now have virtual interconnectivity built in as part of [the converged infrastructure] environment," said Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research. "Dell's converged platforms give you the ability to roll out VMware environments that are already bundled in and NSX provides to controls to do it all automatically [at the network virtualization layer]."

In a converged infrastructure, "NSX applies agility in terms of provisioning, in terms of network topology and in terms of architecture," Lerner said. "It's the same benefits NSX gives on top of a traditional architecture, but it's prepackaged and turnkey."

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