As businesses and their operating models change, the challenge for data center architects is to ensure new workloads, users and devices can still be served as effectively as when IT purchase decisions were made. This has led to increasing attention on Software Defined Networking (SDN), a new approach to providing networks with more real-time intelligence, deep application integration and high levels of automation to prepare networking technology for the rigorous demands of the cloud era

In this vein, Dell is announcing a number of solutions today that can aid the transformation of your data center to a highly automated and elastic network:

Dell Active Fabric:

Dell’s Active Fabric approach is a flatter, faster, any-to-any multipath network architecture that is tuned to be more efficient at handling the growing amounts of East-West traffic in today’s data centers. Active Fabric supports Dell’s open-standards approach to SDN, encompassing networking virtualization overlays (NVO) using the leading hypervisors in the industry, support for OpenFlow-based controllers, as well as legacy interface capabilities (Telnet/CLI, TCL, REST, etc.). And this is all real and available today - switches like the Dell Z9000 and S4810 allow us to deliver a high-performance, 10/40GbE L2/L3 multipath active fabric solution that provides nearly 60% cost savings while consuming 77% less power.

Dell Active Fabric Manager:

To help our customers create and manage the Active Fabric, Dell is also announcing the Dell Active Fabric Manager (AFM) - a first-of-its kind software tool that automates the tasks associated with planning, designing, building and monitoring fabrics. AFM can reduce deployment time up to 86 percent compared to a completely manual process.

Dell Active Fabric Manager features include a design wizard to greatly simplify the mapping process using an intuitive GUI, automated provisioning, validation and configuration capabilities that provide a step-by-step approach to translate a fabric design to a completely functional deployment, and AFM abstracts the fabric as a single entity, not at the device level, allowing other tools in the data center to integrate easily. Coupled with this, role-based access allows multiple departments (e.g. server and storage administrators) to monitor different aspects of fabric performance without disrupting the underlying network operations. It all translates to an easy-to-use, faster and error-free management experience.

Dell Networking S5000:

The latest in Dell’s array of networking hardware is the S5000. Our latest top-of-rack switch is a modular, 1U 10/40GbE converged LAN/SAN switch equipped with native Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) capabilities. The modularity gets you the ability to populate a single module out of four, and scale as your needs grow making it easier to acquire and only pay for what you need now without sacrificing future needs. A mix of options as far as Ethernet/FC or 10GbE ports gives you configuration flexibility for a converged LAN/SAN fabric, and all of this comes with proven interoperability with leading adapter, switch and storage vendors.

To learn more, check out the full press release, visit Dell TechCenter and talk to our Dell Networking experts at Interop Las Vegas 2013. Continue the conversation by commenting below or following @DellNetworking and #DoMoreIT on Twitter.