Dell and Cisco team up on next-gen data centres


Dell and Cisco have expanded on an existing partnership in a bid to help customers more easily manage datacentre infrastructures in a virtual environment.

Announced at the Cisco Networkers 2009 conference in Barcelona, the additions to the Solution Technology Integrator agreement will see Dell add Cisco's Nexus 5020 switches to its PowerEdge server and EqualLogic, PowerVault and Dell/EMC storage systems.

The combined platform is designed to help customers simplify the management of next-generation datacentres by pooling storage and computing resources over a unified networking fabric.

This consolidates local area network, storage area network (SAN) and server cluster network environments into a single high-speed 10Gb Ethernet fabric that supports protocols such as Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and iSCSI.

Dell has also qualified the Catalyst 4900 Top-of-Rack Switches as a supported switching platform for its EqualLogic SAN arrays.

Robin Kuepers, Dell's head of storage in EMEA, said this next step in its partnership with Cisco is to enable Dell to better serve customers building out datacentres using virtualisation.

"Dell is becoming more and more a partner for customers in the datacentre, and these firms want a single point of contact for supplying their needs," he explained.

Under the agreement, Dell will install and support the Cisco products alongside its own equipment, and that from storage partner EMC.

This should not only save customers on up-front purchase costs, but also on support, as Dell will support the entire installation.

"All the products are shipped as one solution, can be supported as one solution and are certified by us as one solution.

"They still carry the Cisco brand, but come as a part of the Dell range," said Kuepers.

According to Dell, the growing needs of supporting virtualisation call for higher-end switches and tighter integration between the storage, server and network components.

By partnering with Cisco, Dell can offer customers "end-to-end virtualisation", Kuepers said.

Although Dell acquired EqualLogic about a year ago for its iSCSI-based storage technology, the company recognises that many customers are likely to have existing Fibre Channel infrastructure and may thus prefer to upgrade using FCoE.

"We're hearing much more interest from customers on FCoE, even though it is not an officially ratified standard, but at the moment, iSCSI is available and affordable," said Keupers.

The new Cisco switches will be available alongside Dell's existing data centre products within the next six to eight weeks.

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Dell and Cisco team up on next-gen data centres
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