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Dell launches SMB switch line

Dell's latest switches provide basic networking for small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

Dell introduced a line of no-frills Ethernet switches for small and medium-sized businesses that employ few, if any, IT workers.

The Networking X-Series launched this week comprises 1 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10 GbE switches. Dell provides technical support and Web-based management tools that include step-by-step wizards and a dashboard for configuring and troubleshooting the SMB switch gear.

"Their new SMB-focused line is traditional and straightforward, adding a few differentiators -- Dell service -- at an attractive price," said Patrick Moorhead, analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy.

The X-Series is designed for the 2 million U.S. companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, which is Dell's "sweet spot" in the switch market, said Arpit Joshipura, Dell Networking's vice president of product management and marketing for Dell Networking.

The line includes nine products with prices ranging from $200 to $1,500. The power-over-Ethernet devices have from eight to 52 ports.

New N-Series switch aimed at campus market

Dell also introduced a small-office campus switch in its N-Series line. The N1500 provides Layer 2 and 3 network services and a command-line management interface. A four-unit stack has up to 200 1 GbE ports.

The N1500, which supports wired and wireless LANs, is scheduled for release this summer.

While Dell sells the new switches direct, it expects most sales to go through channel partners, such as Ingram Micro, Joshipura said.

For companies too large for the SMB market, Dell has an open networking strategy in which the vendor provides the hardware and customers choose an operating system from Dell, Cumulus or Big Switch. Companies can also buy just the hardware and install an OS themselves.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other switch makers are adopting an open approach as an alternative to Cisco's more proprietary products, which account for roughly 65% of the global market, according to IDC.

Some form of open networking is likely to reach the SMB market in time, Moor said. "Give open networking a few years and I'd expect to see it move to smaller shops."

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