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New Dell EMC 100 GbE switch tailored for east-west traffic

The latest Dell EMC 100 GbE switch is an open system aimed at service providers and large enterprises. The Z9264F is a 2RU system, with 64 100 GbE ports. Pricing starts at $45,000.

Dell EMC has introduced a high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet switch aimed at service providers and large enterprises that need more powerful hardware to support a growing number of cloud applications and digital business initiatives.

Dell EMC launched the Z9264F open networking switch this week, listing its target customers as hyperscale data center operators, tier-one  and -two service providers and enterprises. The Dell EMC 100 GbE switch is designed for leaf-spine switching architectures.

"Dell's new, high-performance, low-latency 100 GbE switch is ideally suited for large enterprises and service providers," said Rohit Mehra, analyst at IDC. "The continued growth of cloud applications that require high-performance, east-west traffic-handling capabilities will likely be one of the key drivers for this class of switches to see increased traction."

Indeed, Dell EMC, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Juniper Networks are counting on an increase in data center traffic to sell their 100 GbE switches. So far, demand for the hardware has been robust. In the first quarter, revenue from 100 GbE gear grew nearly 84% year over year to $742.5 million, according to IDC. Port shipments increased almost 118%.

The Dell EMC 100 GbE switch is 2RU hardware available with 64, 128 or 64 ports of 100 GbE, 25 GbE or 50 GbE, respectively. Options for 10 GbE and 40 GbE ports are also available. Broadcom's 6.4 Tbps StrataXGS Tomahawk II chip powers the switch.

Dell EMC Z9264F open switch
Dell EMC's Z9264F open 100 GbE switch

Dell EMC, along with rival HPE, is marketing its support for third-party network operating systems as a differentiator for its switches. Dell EMC is selling the Z9246F with the enterprise edition of its network operating system (NOS), called OS10, or with operating systems from Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, IP Infusion or Pluribus Networks.

Other options for the Dell 100 GbE switch include the open source edition of OS10 and either the Metaswitch network protocol stack or the Quagga suite of open source applications for managing routing protocols. Finally, Dell EMC will sell just the hardware with several open source applications, including Quagga and the OpenSwitch or SONiC NOS.

The starting price for the Z9264F, without an operating system or optics, is $45,000.

Trends in the 100 GbE market

While open networking is not mainstream yet in the enterprise, providing choice in terms of the complete hardware and software stack is something that large enterprises and service providers have started to look at favorably.
Rohit Mehraanalyst at IDC

Several trends are driving the 100 GbE market. Service providers are redesigning their data centers to support software-based network services, including 5G and IoT. Also, financial institutions are providing services to customers over a growing number of mobile devices.

Meanwhile, cloud companies that provide infrastructure or platform as a service are buying more hardware to accommodate a significant increase in companies moving application workloads to the cloud. In 2017, public cloud data centers accounted for the majority of the $46.5 billion spent on IT infrastructure products -- server, storage and switches -- for cloud environments, according to IDC.

In the first quarter, original design manufacturers accounted for almost 30% of all infrastructure hardware and software sold to public cloud providers, according to Synergy Research Group, based in Reno, Nev. Dell EMC had a 5% to 10% share, which was the same size share as Cisco and HPE.

As a switch supplier, Dell EMC is a smaller player. The company is not one of the top five vendors in the market, according to IDC. Nevertheless, Dell EMC is a major supplier of open networking to the small number of IT shops buying the technology.

"While open networking is not mainstream yet in the enterprise, providing choice in terms of the complete hardware and software stack is something that large enterprises and service providers have started to look at favorably," Mehra said.

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How is your organization using open networking in the data center?
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Actually, our company is consulting businesses how to utilize Open Networking in their IT enviroment. We see a growing demand as it is more cost effective and also more flexible. 
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