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Dell’s Fabric Gets More Active With OpenStack

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Dell’s Fabric Gets More Active With OpenStack

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Dell has been adding lots of open-source to its resume lately. It’s partnered with Red Hat and agreed to curate the CloudNFV project.

Now it’s bringing its network fabric closer to OpenStack. Today, Dell announced the Active Fabric Controller (AFC), software that connects OpenStack’s Neutron (the plug-in for networking) with Dell’s Active Fabric.

It’s targeted at enterprises that want to use OpenStack’s cloud management but are put off by the DIY nature of implementing the open-source platform.

“When you have OpenStack, the rest of the information requires stitching in,” says Arpit Joshipura, a Dell VP of marketing. “There’s a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be manually integrated. So, what AFC does is automate all of that.”

Dell already does this with VMware‘s hybrid cloud, giving virtualized servers inside vCloud a way to connect to Dell’s Active Fabric (i.e., Dell’s data-center switches). “A lot of our networking software has been optimized and integrated into vCenter,”  Joshipura says. The Active Fabric Controller is an analogous step for OpenStack.

AFC includes discovery and optimization that are done through OpenFlow or other “non-traditional Layer 2 and Layer 3″ technologies, Joshipura says. Dell says AFC can detect newly added elements in the network — security applications, for example — and automatically handle networking factors such as quality-of-service (QoS).

Reinforcing the Data-Center Spine

Dell is also announcing a data-center spine switch, the Z9500. It’s a fixed-configuration switch, 3 rack units tall, with features that can be unlocked by paying for various levels of software licensing. (It’s a pay-as-you-go model, something new to Dell.)

It’s got 132 40-Gb/s ports, which Dell says is twice the density-per-rack-unit of Cisco‘s Nexus 9000 series. (The 9508 can support 288 40-Gb/s ports, Cisco says, but is a larger box than the Z9500. Cisco also announced the Nexus 9516 yesterday; it’s got room for 576 40-Gb/s ports but is even larger.)

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