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Bulging racks top of mind for Dell's new switch

S6000 drinks VMware's NSX Kool Aid, spaffs data over 40GbE

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Dell's march into every corner of the data centre continues, with the company revealing a new switch that plays nicely with the NSX software-defined networking software VMware revealed last week.

The switch is the S6000, which Dell's director of networking sales for Australian and New Zealand Vijay Valayatham said is designed as a “top of rack” device, a role in which switches have enough grunt to handle the rather hefty amounts of traffic a rack full of 10GbE-equipped servers – be they virtual or physical - generates, then aggregate the lot and send it off to a data centre's core where even mightier packet-wranglers reside.

To do that job, the S6000 has either 32 40GbE ports or 96 10GbE ports, plus 8 40GbE ports and 4GB of RAM. We're told it delivers a switching latency of 600ns.

Those ports are packed into a 1U box that can't be prised apart and reconfigured. This is an arrangement Valayatham feels is sensible because 40GbE isn't yet taxed for most of the working day - and also because the top of rack concept lends itself to networks that scale out with incremental purchases instead of big bang buys that require huge quantities of capital.

Down at Layer 2 the S6000 has been made aware of the requirements VMware's NSX imposes on switches, the better to help the hypervisor assemble and reconfigure virtual networks on the fly without upsetting the rest of the stack too much. Valayatham said Dell is keen to ensure hardware acceleration ensures “throughput is not affected as traffic traverses from virtualised to non-virtualised environments”.

Valayatham said he also feels the switch signals 40GbE's arrival as an utterly necessary and mainstream technology, albeit one that's not yet trickled down to the average organisation.

Speaking of both NSX and the S6000's role in enabling it, Valayatham said both will “be more applicable in the near term to the likes of cloud providers, hosts, web 2.0 companies and those that deal with orchestrating workloads, adding them on a fairly regular basis and see regular change.”

“It's closely correlated with how dynamic a data centre is,” he said, “but these technologies will benefit any VMware environment over time.” ®

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