Dell Debuts Layer 3 Switches

The PowerConnect 6000 line represents Dell's next step in the expansion of its fledgling networking business.

Dell took another step up the ladder to expand its fledgling networking business this week with the introduction of two Layer 3 Gigabit Ethernet switches that enable greater reach and more users than its existing networking products.

The PowerConnect 6024, a copper switch, and the 6024F, its fiber counterpart, provide a unique value and feature proposition for existing and new Dell customers, says Ulrich Hansen, Dell Networking's senior product manager.

"This is Dell's first routing switch and a pretty important step for us," he says. "We've been successful selling Layer 2 switches, but that can only scale up to 400 to 500 users before you have to start segmenting the network."

The 6000 series switches can form the core of a network, serve as the center of the LAN infrastructure, and scale up to 2,000 to 3,000 users with a two-switch implementation, Hansen says.

The 6024 and 6024F can be used to aggregate multiple switches or connect servers in a data center. The switches offer 24 ports of Gigabit Ethernet. In addition, the copper switch has eight ports of fiber support, primarily for uplinks to the rest of the network, and the fiber switch has eight ports of copper, so networks primarily using fiber can utilize less-expensive copper connections for short-range requirements.

In addition to appealing to customers who already have Dell equipment, the switches provide a strong value proposition in comparison with competitive products, with a list price of $3,499, Hansen says. The switches also come with redundant, hot-pluggable power supplies and fans, an integrated cable tester, network-management standard-edition software, and a three-year service contract, as well as lifetime tech support and access to firmware upgrades.

Hansen says Dell has not broken out sales of its networking products, the first of which was introduced in September 2001.

"We want to give the business a little more time to establish itself on a worldwide basis," he says. "Customer feedback is strong, and the business is growing steadily quarter to quarter.

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