Dell will offer Big Switch's Switch Light network operating system on its Ethernet switches, starting with the S4810 and S6000 models. Dell will also offer Big Switch's software-defined networking controller applications, starting with the Big Tap Monitoring product.
The Big Switch deal follows Dell's arrangement with Cumulus Networks to bundle Cumulus' Linux OS on Dell S6000 and S4810 top-of-rack switches.
+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD:Big Switch's Big Pivot+
Dell believes adding third-party networking software on its switch hardware will actually increase the value of its products rather than commoditize or marginalize them. Dell says customers are demanding these disaggregated hardware platforms, operating systems and applications, and that the company can make money by providing follow-on integration services and support.
"We're all about making technology more affordable, more acceptable to hundreds of millions of customers out there in the world," says Dell Founder and CEO Michael Dell. "We have a big opportunity here to change the way the data center is installed, and it's absolutely in our DNA. We were the first to embrace Linux, we were the first to embrace OpenStack, we're jumping into the open networking space here very rapidly. Any time something comes along that's good for customers standing in the way of it is never a good idea."
Dell believes it can provide value above and beyond the stripped down, bare metal white box commodity hardware associated with SDNs by offering validated, tested and supported Ethernet switches in fixed-form factors, along with a common operational model for servers, storage and networking from a single vendor. Dell also believes a single point of contact and accountability for global services will be a key differentiator, as will pre- and post-sales network planning, deployment and support services.
Dell plans to offer the Big Switch software on its switches this quarter.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.