Dell brings direct model to bear in network space

Dell believes its entry into the networking space is helping to shake things up by introducing more competitive prices.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  June 26, 2003

Expansion |~||~||~|Dell is continuing its march into the networking space with the introduction of the PowerConnect 3324, 3348 and 5512 switches. The products, which will add weight to the vendor’s Layer 2 switching product portfolio, have also been developed in response to customer feedback.

The 3324 and 3348 switches, which will be released into the region in the October, November, December time frame, will strengthen Dell’s existing 10/100 switching family. They will deliver a more sophisticated feature set than the 3024/3048 models, but provide the stackability that the current 3248 switch lacks.

“The new products — 3324 and 3348 — will be stackable and will have the level of sophistication of the 3248 — this was asked for by the customer. So we now offer small to medium enterprise stackable switches, which are the 3024 and 3048, and we then offer more sophisticated medium to large switches with the 3324 and 3348 model,” explains Gary Radburn, head of networking for Dell, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Meanwhile, the 5212 ensures the vendor has a Gigabit switch capable of catering to smaller applications. While the switch provides the same feature set as its sister product, the 5224, including command line interfaces for management and configuration, it is capable of scaling down for smaller implementations.

“The feedback we had was that the 5224, which was the original Gigabit [switch] was too high a port density for smaller applications, so we then bought out a 12 port managed product as well,” comments Radburn.

Dell also believes its entry into the networking space is helping to shake things up by introducing more competitive prices. The vendor cites its direct business model as the key factor in being able to reduce its fees, and Radburn argues that lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the end user can only be a plus point.

“Dell is very good at going into markets like this [networking] and bringing the direct model to bear. We are reducing the total cost of ownership for the customer by bringing out good quality switches with competitive features and at a lower street price,” he says.

“We are shaking up the market but it has been very well received by the customer and if we can come in and change cost dynamics for the customer, then that can only be a good thing,” says Radburn.

According to Dell, the Gigabit space is a prime example of where its competitive pricing is paying dividends. The vendor says it has introduced Gigabit switching at only US$100 per port, “where previous prices were well in excess of that,” comments Radburn.

Furthermore, the vendor claims that its direct model strategy enables it to reduce prices without any degradation to the feature set. Moreover, Dell claims to be listening to customer feedback to make improvements and enhancements to its networking switches.

“We are coming in with competitive features and we have listened to customers, what they require and what their future needs are,” says Radburn.

“The [initial] firmware releases that we had for existing switches didn’t support some of the more sophisticated features. But we are going to be releasing firmware upgrades on some of the Gigabit switches. For instance, to support 802.1x for those customers that are looking for more security inside their organisations,” he explains.

Although Dell doesn’t seem to have made a great deal of regional noise surrounding its networking products, the vendor says it has been receiving positive feedback from end users in the Middle East. However, Radburn does admit that he is keen to forge credibility for Dell as a networking vendor in its own right rather than selling networking products as part of a larger IT solution.

“We have had a good response from the region, [but] it has tended to be people that are in a big deployments that have been going for it [our switches] in the Middle East,” he explains.

“And while the strength of our solution is that we are a one stop shop — you can buy an end to end solution from Dell — that is good as far as it goes. [But] we also want to be seen as a credible networking vendor, so that when people think networking, they think Dell,” Radburn says.||**||

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