Dell plans to double staff working on Force10 products

The company sees opportunities in new datacenter rollouts in Asia

Dell plans to double the number of staff selling, marketing and developing the products of Force10 Networks, the networking company it acquired in August, an executive said.

The increase in staff is geared towards integration of the Force10 products with other Dell products, and development of new products to meet increasing demand for datacenter equipment, particularly as China and some other countries in Asia invest in datacenters, Dario Zamarian, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking, said on Wednesday.

Force10 in San Jose, California had 750 staff at the time of the acquisition, of which about 450 were in research and development (R&D). It had about 200 staff in sales and marketing.

In India, for example, the company plans to double over the next 12 to 18 months the number of staff working on R&D around the Force10 products from the current total of about 265 engineers.

The center in Chennai in south India came to Dell as a result of the acquisition. It will now also work on integration of the Force10 products with Dell's other products.

Dell's center in Bangalore, with about 700 staff, works on enterprise systems and software, including the Dell Virtual Integrated System architecture, said Rudramuni B., executive director and head of Dell India R&D center. Integration has to be planned right from the product architecture level, he said.

Integration of the Force10 products with Dell's own PowerConnect networking products and other equipment is important for the company, as it holds that a key benefit it can deliver to datacenter and other customers is a complete stack that provides hooks and smoother interoperability between different Dell products in networking, storage, and servers.

The Force10 operating system (FTOS) could provide a single operating system for the Force10 and PowerConnect products, Zamarian said. PowerConnect switches, for example, already auto-detect EqualLogic arrays. Dell acquired EqualLogic, a provider of storage area networks (SANs), in 2008.

Dell tries to strike a careful balance between organic investments and acquisitions of companies, because the "time to bring together the right assets for our customers is now", Zamarian said. Developing something from scratch can sometimes take time, he added.

Dell does not however plan to invest in Fibre Channel networking technology, as it expects Ethernet to provide more opportunities for innovation, Zamarian said. It has a relationship with Brocade for Fibre Channel networking technology.

The company sees opportunities in non-switching networking areas such as network security, WAN (wide area network) optimization, load balancing, wireless LAN (local area network), and the orchestration layer of the network. The company currently uses partners' products to address these markets. If the company decides to architect some of these technologies better, it may do it in a stronger partnership, or in-house, or through an acquisition, Zamarian said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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