Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Dell continued its campaign to usurp business from the proprietary networking market with the announcement Dec. 11 of a new partnership with Midokura, a provider of network virtualization software that runs on standard x86 servers.

Dell is making a multi-year commitment to transform networking inside the enterprise, said Tom Burns, vice president and general manager of Dell Networking. However, he conceded that open networking based on industry-standard servers has been slow to take off outside of Web-scale companies, such as Google and Facebook.

The alliance is the latest in a series of Dell partnerships through which Dell intends to detract from the proprietary network business from rivals, such as Cisco. Dell has partnered with both Midokura and Cumulus Networks, a provider of network operating systems based on an implementation of Linux.

While Midokura and Cumulus Networks lack the channel reach required to effectively challenge Cisco and other more established networking vendors, Burns said that, via distribution agreements with these companies, Dell and its channel partners will provide the critical mass required to bring technologies to market that will eventually serve to expand the overall size of the market.

“We think these technologies will drive a new generation of applications and business models,” Burns said. “For our customers and partners, we will provide the one throat to choke that they need via our distribution agreements.”

Since becoming a private company in Oct. 2013, Dell is able to be much more aggressive in terms of vendor alliances, Burns said. He added that not having to answer to Wall Street gives Dell the flexibility to stake its claim on the emerging “white-box networking” business, which Gartner forecasts will expand from 4 percent of the market in 2013 to 10 percent of total number of global data center ports by 2018.

This year, Dell has dramatically increased its networking presence, with more than 24,000 customers worldwide and a partner network that now drives 30 percent of that business, Burns said.

Not all of Dell’s growth in the networking business is being driven by customers embracing open networking software. However, as open networking continues to gain momentum inside and out the traditional enterprise, solution providers in the channel should expect to see a lot more of it in the years ahead.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.