Dell updates PowerConnect switches but keeps earlier line

The PowerConnect 7000 series offers lower power consumption and advanced features

Dell updated its enterprise Ethernet switch lineup on Thursday with the PowerConnect 7000 series, adding high-availability features, low power consumption and POE (power over Ethernet) to its equipment offerings for use in several parts of a LAN.

The 7000 series consists of stackable Layer 3 Gigabit Ethernet switches in a variety of configurations with 24 or 48 ports. The 7000 line does not replace the PowerConnect 6000 line, which has been on the market since 2004, but brings in new features that some enterprises need in edge, aggregation and data-center top-of-rack switches, said Larry Hart, senior director of network marketing.

Dell accounted for only about one per cent of global Ethernet switch revenue in 2010, according to research company Dell'Oro Group. But the company is focused on being a full-line supplier of IT gear even as rivals such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard extend their own lineups to span enterprises. In this rivalry, Dell claims as its selling point the ability to build a complete infrastructure that can accommodate products from a variety of vendors.

Though the 6000 line was based on Gigabit Ethernet, Ethernet and related technologies have seen many advances in the past several years. Dell took advantage of these in the new set of six switches. They meet the IEEE 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet standard, which reduces power consumption through techniques such as putting individual ports into sleep mode during periods of low traffic, Hart said. This can cut per-port power consumption by as much as 50 per cent, according to Dell.

Dell is also including both 24-port and 48-port switches in the line with IEEE 802.3at Power over Ethernet+, a standard for delivering as much as 30 watts of power over Ethernet cables. This technology can power devices including robotic surveillance cameras, video phones and dual-band Wi-Fi access points, without the need for separate cables, Hart said.

Versions of the 7000 switches designed for enterprise data centers come with an auto-configuration utility for iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface), which allows administrators to set up iSCSI arrays using Dell EqualLogic products with just one click.

The 7000 series also comes with several features for high availability, including redundant and hot-swappable fans and power supplies. The PowerConnect 7048R can be reconfigured to reverse the airflow through the switch depending on the data-center layout being used.

Each switch comes with four 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be used as uplinks or as interconnects among the switches. As many as 12 of the switches can be linked together and assigned a single IP address so they can be managed as a single switch with as many as 576 Gigabit Ethernet ports using the 48-port switches, Hart said. The line also includes options for fiber Ethernet interfaces.

The 7000 series is available immediately worldwide, with starting prices ranging from about US$3,300 to $6,500. The 6000 series remains on the market for customers who don't need the features of the 7000 line. The older switches have starting prices between $1,750 and $3,600.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is

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