Today, through the emerging OpenFlow protocol, SDN has only been standardized between a controller and the so-called data plane, where switches forward packets, he said. Dell wants to offer APIs that reach all the way up to the hypervisor. It plans to optimize its software for the key hypervisors, including VMware's ESX and Microsoft's Hyper-V as well as the open-source OpenStack framework, while remaining hypervisor-agnostic, Joshipura said.
"If you can do that, where you can simplistically connect any of these hypervisors ... into any controller and any switch, now you have the makings of a software-defined network," Joshipura said. If organizations move from ESX to Hyper-V or OpenStack, they will be able to stay with Dell, he said. "Let the giants fight. We will keep our customer value and our secret sauce here," Joshipura said.
Joshipura played up the benefits of Dell's acquisition of Force10. Since the deal closed about a year ago, Dell Networking has increased its investment and workforce in R&D by one-and-a-half times, he said. Just within the former Force10 group, which serves large enterprises, R&D has grown from 400 to 650 employees, he said.
Dell Networking also includes the PowerConnect line, aimed more at smaller customers. Revenue for the whole networking group went up 94 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the division has doubled its force of networking sales specialists.
Also since the acquisition, the Force10 business has doubled its customer base from the approximately 1,400 it had on its own, Joshipura said.