Exclusive: Dell switch takes aim at network core
As the newest member of Dell’s PowerConnect switch line, the 6024 packs a punchFollow @pvenezia
Long a purveyor of server solutions, Dell is branching out into the world of network switching. With the brand-new Dell PowerConnect 6024, the company is leaping from their previous layer 2 edge switches to the center of the network: layer 3 core switching.
Stepping into the core switch market — even the fixed-port, nonchassis-based market — is a bold move. As I mentioned in review of the PowerConnect 3300 series switches, Dell joined the edge-switching fray hoping to up-sell server buyers into low-cost 10/100Mb layer 2 switches.
With the introduction of Dell’s core switch, however, it’s a new ballgame. A core switch is the heart of any infrastructure and needs to be bulletproof. So there’s more at stake than cost — it’s a matter of trust. After all, if you can’t depend on the core, you can’t depend on any part of the infrastructure.
Does Dell succeed with the 6024? Let’s examine the scorecard. Redundant, hot-swappable power supplies? Check. Redundant, hot-swappable case fans? Check. VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol) support, 802.1q trunking, and LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol)? Check, check, and check. In fact, the 6024 has just about every major feature of the competing fixed-port, layer 3 switches priced hundreds or thousands of dollars higher.
The 6024 is a true layer 3, fixed-port core switch, with 24 GbE ports available in two configurations. Both configurations offer 24 full gigabit ports, with eight of those ports available in fiber or copper. The fiber flavor has 24 SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) ports and eight copper gigabit ports, with only 24 total ports usable at a time. The copper flavor has 24 copper gigabit ports and eight SFP ports, with the same use limits.
In both configurations, the 6024 actually appears to have 32 physical ports, with the last eight overlapping ports 16 to 24. These options are refreshing in a fixed-port core switch. It can act as an aggregation switch with the potential to handle 16 fiber trunks to edge switches, eight servers, 16 servers, and eight fiber trunks — or any other combination within its physical limitations.
The 6024 has a 35.6mpps forwarding rate, support for as many as 4096 VLANs, OSPF, RIP (Routing Information Protocol), as well as DVMRP (Distance Vector Multicast Routing Protocol), IGMP (Internet Group Multicast Protocol), and the aforementioned VRRP. Full-spanning tree support is present, including RST (Rapid Spanning Tree) support, facilitating rapid recovery from link and switch failure.
Layer 4 ACLs (access control lists) are available. ACLs can be bound to a physical port, aggregate port, or to a VLAN interface; but an ACL can only be bound to the input traffic on an interface. The QoS configuration is somewhat limited, supporting only eight priority queues, but it’s relatively simple to configure traffic class, IP port, and DSCP (Differentiated Services Code Point) CoS (class of service) mappings.