Dell simplifies switch management

Dell aims to make life easier for administrators managing large networks of its Lan gear. with the release of its OpenManage...

Dell aims to make life easier for administrators managing large networks of its Lan gear. with the release of its OpenManage Network Manager software.

The software, which is  available to Dell networking customers as a free download from today, lets administrators perform a variety of management functions on multiple network devices at once.

With the OpenManage software, a network manager can define a group of switches and set up configurations, reset access controls, and turn features on and off for all the switches in the group. The manager can also keep a backup copy of the correct configuration to send out to a device if it needs to be restarted.

OpenManage also includes a calendar for managers to schedule events such as configuration backups, which are better performed during off-peak hours, and periodic changes in Simple Network Management Protocol community strings, which work like administrator passwords.

Dell has only been in the network equipment business for about two years and is shipping four managed products: the PowerConnect 3324 and 3348 Fast Ethernet switches and the PowerConnect 5212 and 5224 Gigabit Ethernet switches. So far, administrators have only been able to manage these switches one by one. Dell said OpenManage is ideal for organisations with more than 10 Dell switches. Administrators will be able to use the software from a server console or a web interface.

Other suppliers of Lan gear, including Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, already offer tools with such capabilities, but Dell provides better value by offering its software free.

In addition to saving managers time and companies money, centralising network element management can help prevent mistakes that slow or shut down networks, according to IDC analyst Stephen Elliot.

"Most network failures are human-related. The more coding ... the higher the risk of human error," Elliot said. In addition, many small and medium-sized businesses, which make up much of Dell's customer base, tend to neglect management until the network goes down, he added.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service

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