Dell has high hopes of becoming a much stronger player in the networking space. Its latest product release announcement is a step in the right direction, strengthening its product portfolios around cloud and software-defined networking (SDN).

The key aspect of this latest product announcement is the Dell Networking Z9500, which Dell calls the "highest density, energy-efficient, and only pay-as-you-grow 10/40GbE data center core switch available." The Z9500 Fabric Switch was designed to be a high-density, fixed-form factor data center switch with a full suite of L2/L3 routing and switching protocols.

For end users, it's meant to address data center 1/10/40GbE aggregation requirements through centralized core or distributed core architectures for high-performance data centers, cloud computing, provider-hosted data centers and enterprise LAN cores. According to Dell, it's ideal for Web 2.0, high performance computing and virtualization workloads.

Additionally, Dell announced the Dell Active Fabric Controller, a purpose-built SDN platform that was designed to simplify and securely configure and deploy network functionality in the cloud and XaaS environments. It also plays into Dell's open source cloud computing strategy, as it is targeted for enterprise OpenStack deployments and is an optional component of Dell's OpenStack-powered cloud solutions for SUSE and Ubuntu.

Active Fabric Controller is meant to be easy to use with plug-and-play networking features.

"When you say networking, Dell isn't the first company that comes to mind. We're working hard to change that," said Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking, in a prepared statement. "This is another great demonstration of our commitment to innovating and changing the way networking has always been done. Recently we introduced the concept of Open Networking, giving customers—for the first time—a choice of third-party network operating systems to meet their application needs. Today we're extending our leadership in SDN, NFV and advanced new architectures."