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Dell aims to connect the dots for telcos building modern networks

Carriers want to use open architectures to build cloud-native and 5G services, but putting all the pieces together isn't that simple. Dell is rolling out a series of new tools to help make it happen.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

As telecommunications companies plan for the future -- think private 5G networks powering warehouse robots or mobile edge computing delivering VR -- they're turning to open architectures to modernize their networks. However, bringing all the components of an open, cloud-native network together isn't that simple. 

To help carriers connect the dots, Dell Technologies is rolling out a series of new tools and services. They're introducing them this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 

"Global carriers want to find a way to take advantage of more cloud-native architectures, so they can be more agile, deliver more services and grow their revenues", Dennis Hoffman, SVP and GM for Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business, told ZDNet. However, "the modern network is made up a whole bunch of different vendors -- not one or two -- and that turns out to be really hard to assemble and run a network on."

Also: Best 5G phones

Dell Technologies formed its telecom systems business (TSB) a couple of years ago to solve the challenge of building an open ecosystem around the network, particularly around the end of the network. Assembling components -- parts as small as processors, software from vendors like VMware or Microsoft -- and delivering complete systems is everyday business for Dell, so the new line of business makes sense. 

The latest additions to Dell's services and products start with the Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation. It's an integrated solution that gives customers a choice of virtual infrastructure management software, such as software from VMware, Red Hat or Wind River, on top of a Dell server with support. Dell's bare metal orchestration software lets the customer centrally manage a distributed network of computers as one package. It effectively serves as the bottom layer of a modern telecom network. 

"What we're aiming at is speed, simplicity, and ultimately reliability of acquiring the entire infrastructure from a single vendor while still keeping it open," Hoffman said. 

Dell's also rolling out new hardware. The Dell Open RAN Accelerator Card, which will be available soon, offloads layer 1 processing for Open RAN (Radio Access Networks) and 5G vRAN. Open technology, RAN in particular, is not as price-performant as existing technology, so offloading tasks from the core processor should help solve that issue. 

Next, the company is offering telcos new Dell Validated Designs. The offering is effectively Dell hardware and partner software, with a reference architecture and certified design that makes it easy to assemble. Dell is offering a validated network core design in partnership with Oracle and VMware, and it's offering a network edge design based largely on Intel's Smart Edge. 

Lastly, there's the new Dell Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab Solution Integration Platform. This helps carriers and partners securely connect their lab resources to the Dell lab and infrastructure, so they can develop 5G and telecom edge services and bring them to market more quickly.

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