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Dell Sees Season of the Switch

Dell has introduced new software to simplify management of its PowerConnect switches, a signal of the Round Rock, Texas, company's growing commitment to a market it entered only two years ago.

OpenManage Network Manager can be downloaded by customers for free via the Internet or CD-ROM and is compatible with previous as well as future shipments.

"We see this as being applicable to customers with 10 or more of our switches," Ulrich Hansen, a manager with Dell's switch business, told internetnews.com.

Dell made a name selling PCs, and later servers, through its direct model. It added switches in late 2001. The devices zip data from a server or computer to an individual target PC without sending the information across an entire network.

The new tool, designed by an unnamed Dell technology partner, should save network administrators time when it comes to diagnosing and solving system problems configuring a switch or a group of switches for new tasks or for routine maintenance.

It features maps that allow users to pinpoint problems switches and intuitive commands and timing functions. Other vendors who make network monitoring software include Hewlett-Packard and Tivoli.

In addition to the release of OpenManage Network Manager, which appeals to customers who are already using Dell PCs, servers and storage hardware, the company is preparing to bolster the switch line.

"We started with four models, and now have eight," Hansen said. "We'll have additional fixed port switches in the the next 12 months to address other categories. We are building out our portfolio step by step."

Dell wouldn't release sales figures but said it is pleased with the traction its receiving both in small and medium businesses as well as large corporation that might use Dell switches on a small part of their overall system, but not as a core component.

For customers with those needs, Dell still offers core switches from its larger telecom gear partners, including Nortel and Extreme Networks.

Ulrich was hesitant to say whether the broader switch market was rebounding after two years of depressed sales. The flurry of interest in Dell's switches are to be expected because it is a new entrant to the market, he said.