Partner Anticipates 'Interesting Uses' For Dell Networking Operating System Billed As Alternative To Cisco

With its new Operating System 10 platform, Dell Networking is taking square aim at Cisco Systems by offering large-scale data center customers more choice and flexibility.

"It certainly offers an alternative to what has been a full stack or proprietary stack," said Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of networking and enterprise infrastructure at Dell. "Customers working with channel partners are looking for alternatives. They're looking for open, nonproprietary alternatives, particularly if they can take advantage of the open-source community around Linux tools. It's a fresh alternative for partners and gives them more options to put in front of customers. They've already started to embrace this disaggregated view. The software now is the next level."

Cisco did not return CRN's messages seeking comment for this story by publication time.

[Related: Dell On Its Networking Play: It's All About Converged Infrastructure]

Dell unveiled the system this week. The base OS10 module will ship in March and additional application modules will go into beta later this year, the company said. No pricing information has been released.

The new operating system is being offered through channel partners and direct from Dell. One partner said it may take time to create demand for OS10.

"Down the road, as applications are developed, we should see some interesting uses," said Paul Neyman, president of Waypoint Solutions, a Houston-based Dell partner.

"Right now, this seems to be targeted at Web 2.0 companies. Maybe for those cloud providers, having the ability to develop applications at the networking layer will make it easier for our clients to consume cloud services, and that could impact my client base, but that's probably down the road," Neyman said.

Dell's Linux-based OS10 platform allows for the disaggregation of hardware and the underlying software.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell entered the enterprise networking business with the acquisition of Force10 Networks in 2011, but it's a tiny player in that market and it's up against formidable competition from hardware powerhouses Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, as well as newer companies like Juniper Networks and Arista Networks.

Dell's networking play is centered on converged infrastructure, and OS10 helps the company seize opportunities by offering more choice as customers choose open platforms that work with a variety of vendors' gear.

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Dell execs, including Michael Dell, the company's founder and president, have often touted their willingness to offer products and solutions compatible with whatever customers desire.

Dell's OS10 will support Linux, third-party and open-source applications, the company said. Dell said the system will help enterprises that want to manage server, storage and networking on a single operating system.