Dell Technologies has leapt further into the lucrative telecom space with the announcement of products and services aimed at helping providers modernize their infrastructure and prepare for 5G.
“The telecom industry has never been more important to society,” said Dennis Hoffman, senior vice-president and general manager of Dell Technologies’ telecom systems business, during a media briefing. “It’s really making possible this ‘everything from anywhere’ world that we now live in. And yet ironically, at the same time, the industry has never been more challenged, investing billions annually to deploy and operate networks, only to see the vast majority of the economic returns from those networks go elsewhere. So for network operators, the hope and the promise of the edge era, and the 5G technology that largely makes it possible, is not going to be captured without transformation.”
Three major initiatives make up the new offerings.
Project Metalweaver is a software solution that enables cloud service providers to select, autonomously deploy and manage thousands of multi-vendor compute, network and storage devices across multiple locations. It also allows them to easily scale existing resources and is backed by Dell Technologies’ global support and services.
Dell Technologies has developed a series of reference architectures spanning edge, core, and open radio access networks (Open RAN) environments. They include full-stack guidance, deployment options and operational recommendations for specific use cases, and build on Dell Technologies infrastructure foundation solutions with VMware Telco Cloud Platform and Red Hat OpenShift.
Initial deployments will include:
- Core software solutions from Affirmed Networks.
- Private network solutions from CommScope RUCKUS.
- Multi-access edge computing (MEC) solutions with Intel Smart Edge.
- Dell Technologies is collaborating with Mavenir to develop 5G Open RAN software with Dell EMC PowerEdge XR11 ruggedized servers.
- Core software solutions from Nokia.
“We believe fundamentally that we can help the communication service providers really capture what is we believe a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Hoffman said. “There are three things that have to happen in order to do that. First, they need to be able to build and monetize edge computing. That’s something we think we’re uniquely suited to help with. Second, they need to modernize network architectures. The legacy network isn’t as agile as it needs to be, it isn’t software-defined, it’s fundamentally not cloud-native. And that really gets to the last piece, and that is cloud-native operations need to become the principal mechanism by which a communication service provider operates. That last bit, taking all these three things together, really kind of defines transformation.”
The reference architectures will be available in late summer.
To help partners and customers explore and collaborate on telecom solutions, Dell Technologies has announced the Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab. The carrier-grade testing environment in the main lab located at Dell Technologies’ Round Rock, Texas headquarters will allow CSPs to mirror customer environments for testing of solutions. They will also be able to incubate new solutions in the lab and bring them to market quickly. Dell Technologies plans to build several satellite labs around the world (the first is in Tokyo, with two other locations under investigation), as well as providing virtual access.
“This is really the area that we are making it possible for everyone from independent hardware vendors, software vendors, systems integrators, standards bodies and various Consortia, the existing network equipment vendors, and a range of other service providers to come together, test, certify, work equipment, work problems, and develop solutions that can be delivered in forms ranging from simple reference architectures, all the way up to turnkey as-a-service solutions, and deliver to communication service providers,” Hoffman explained. “But, to be clear, this doesn’t replace collaboration efforts or co-innovation efforts that we have in place with carriers today on their own facilities, nor others labs that we have joined. But there’s beginning to be a problem of lab sprawl that makes it difficult for the carriers to know exactly where to go to figure out what to consume, what works best, what works together, and what is fundamentally stable and scalable enough for them to bet their business on, outside of doing everything unilaterally individually or bilaterally in their own labs.”
Members of the Dell Technologies partner program have access to engineering resources and project management support as they design, build, market, and sell their new solutions and services. The company said that Dell Financial Services offers CSPs flexible payment solutions for the products and services they purchase to build their networks.
Channel partners will play a critical role in helping Dell distribute compute, particularly to edge sites globally. “For a whole bunch of reasons. I think everything that really looks like an opportunity for Dell here is very much equally an opportunity for our channel partners,” Hoffman said.
“As carriers continue to make the massive investments in network upgrades including 5G, there are opportunities for disruptive edge computing architectures to emerge enabling new enterprise services and architectures and an array of consumer services that as yet, haven’t been conceived,” said telecommunications consultant Mark Goldberg. “It continues to be a great time to be in the telecom space and there are wonderful opportunities for entrepreneurs to emerge from this generational shift in network architectures and capabilities.”