Dell last week added a key piece to its networking business when it introduced OpenManage Network Manager software for its 3000 and 5000 series PowerConnect Ethernet switches.
OpenManage works only on the vendor's switches, so Dell isn't likely to cut in much on market leader Cisco Systems' share of the network-management market, says Stephen Elliot, a senior analyst at IDC. OpenManage includes tools to manage switch configuration, performance, scheduling, and backup. But it doesn't let companies substantially change existing network infrastructures, says Chad Elliott, technology team leader at Intervet Inc., the U.S. operating division of animal-health company Intervet International. Intervet uses four Dell PowerConnect switches to augment its Cisco networking equipment.
Still, the software will help keep Dell competitive in deals it otherwise would have lost, and the price is right--free. OpenManage can manage thousands of Dell PowerConnect switches, good enough for most small and midsize businesses.