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Dell/Cisco partnership may simplify data center infrastructure

Dell and Cisco Systems' move to install Cisco Nexus 5020 switches into Dell PowerEdge servers and storage will create a pool of unified networking resources, IT pros say.

Cisco and Dell's decision to combine Cisco's Nexus switches into PowerEdge servers and storage could simplify data center cabling and other issues, according to IT professionals.

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The move – whereby Dell factory installs Cisco switches in Dell's blade chassis -- helps create a pool of unified networking resources that streamline data center infrastructure and reduce costs, according to Cisco Systems Inc. and Dell Inc..

Users like Bob Plankers, a veteran system administrator, engineer and designer who also writes the Lone SysAdmin blog concurred that the simplification message is attractive. And this move enables Dell to freshen up some of its servers, he said.

"Unified networking is nice, because you can run your storage and data connectivity over the same connection, reducing the number of cables you need," Plankers said. "Dell has resold Cisco equipment for a long time, [so] I think this is probably just them re-doing their product offerings as part of an upcoming PowerEdge refresh. They're due for new models soon: The PE [PowerEdge] 1950 and PE 2950s are getting old."

"[The partnership] should help companies enhance both the incremental value of individual IT assets and their datacenters as a whole.
Charles King,
analystPund-IT Inc.

Analyst Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. agreed, writing in his weekly Pund-IT Review that pooling these data center assets -- including server, storage and networking components -- creates a common, unified fabric that is valuable in data centers.

"Some of the potential benefits appear pedestrian, such as simplifying cabling and lowering the number of network adapters required. But these are just the sort of components whose cost and complexity can add up quickly, especially in datacenters that are scaling out rapidly," King wrote. "Significantly reduce the numbers of cables and adapters across numerous servers, switches and storage arrays, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."

With a unified network fabric, "Cisco and Dell should help companies enhance both the incremental value of individual IT assets and their datacenters as a whole," King said. "That is good business by any definition."

Expanding the Dell/Cisco partnership
Specifically, under the expanded Dell/Cisco partnership (the two providers have an existing global Solution Technology Integration agreement), the companies will include Cisco's Nexus 5020 switching systems as part of Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EqualLogic, PowerVault, and Dell/EMC storage products.

The Nexus 5020 is designed to simplify infrastructure management with a unified networking fabric that consolidates LAN, storage area network (SAN) and server cluster network environments into a single high-speed 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric, which supports protocols such as Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, and iSCSI.

Cisco SMARTnet support options will also be available to customers that want to consolidate their network service, with Cisco along with Dell's enterprise products. Dell contends that making these technologies available through a single provider or vendor can save IT managers time and money.

In addition, Dell has qualified Cisco Catalyst 4900 Top-of-Rack Switches (ToR) for its EqualLogic SAN arrays. The Catalyst 4900 ToR switches are now a supported switching platform for the EqualLogic SAN arrays.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

Also, check out our data center blogs: Server Farming, Mainframe Propellerhead and Data Center Facilities Pro


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