Dell Technologies' Eric Van Vliet on supporting telecoms on their 5G journey
5G is poised to completely transform the mobile communications network. Yet there are two components to its success that are rarely discussed: edge, and cloud. The reality is that cloud technologies enable the cost efficiencies and pace of innovation that make 5G so exciting - and hybrid cloud is the firm favourite among organisations flirting with new network speeds. But telecom operators can’t simply adopt existing cloud technology from the enterprise world. Instead, they need a telecoms cloud platform designed for their unique requirements and challenges. If 5G and associated technologies are to fulfil their true potential, telecom operators need to incorporate highly scalable cloud-native infrastructure into their rollouts. This is a complex task, requiring trusted technology partner support. Telecom’s 5G challenge Understanding that software is only a piece of the telecom cloud is important. Telecom-grade hardware, services, and additional tools are needed to bring the whole cloud together. Until now, this responsibility has fallen directly on the shoulders of telecom operators themselves or legacy vendors with little cloud experience. Collaborating with technology experts is an important part of the 5G puzzle. At the heart of the telecom drive for 5G ubiquity is the need to monetise their networks, placing greater emphasis on awareness and innovation within the enterprise sphere. Therein lies the greatest challenge for telecoms in the 5G era. Bringing compute power into the network and hosting applications closer to the edg, will facilitate the analysis and processing of data closer to source, delivering the ultra-low latency required to unleash the full benefits of 5G at scale. This will unravel an entirely new stream of business opportunity and revenue streams, and Dell Technologies is supporting telecom as they look to accelerate and enable this discovery. Many need to reconsider what they think 5G is - it’s often not what they think. It is software-driven and born from the cloud, and still relatively young. It is the transformer and provider of new cloud-based services. The first beneficiary of this will be rural broadband services. 5G will help progress rural connectivity by using mobile networks to close digital divides, bringing broadband to homes for reduced costs without dragging fibre up the driveway. Meanwhile, 5G will power a new range of devices and services across industries. In high-density areas like at a football stadium - where previously signal bars would be zero - not only will fans have accessible signals, but entirely new content-driven experiences. For example, streaming a goal via mobile phone from a close-up point of view will augment the in-stadium experience. Similarly at a live music event, fans will be able to stream close ups of their favourite rock stars live. The enterprise opportunity These opportunities are driven by fundamental cultural shifts. We have moved from an era of content consumption to content creation, transforming our technological needs. As businesses respond to the potential posed by lower latency, capturing these new opportunities will enable telcoms to monetise 5G networks. But they require nurture first, technological expertise and a good dose of business savvy. On the industrial front, 5G has been touted as an enabler of smart factories providing connectivity for devices in remote locations. Industrial IoT and automation are a big factor here, powered by edge technologies. Automation has a role to play in the network itself, helping service providers deploy their work. If we're looking at the enterprises that are leveraging automation in their factories - use cases such as warehouse automation for retailers - 5G accelerates that automation with an immediate impact on both the bottom line and the top line for an enterprise. Businesses can do more in the same amount of time because now the robots can go faster, or because they can respond more quickly to its needs or obstructions. Tailoring cloud technologies for telecoms Underneath it all, is the quest to modernise networks and embrace cloud operating models with more choice, speed, and agility. Ultimately, telecoms want Open RAN technologies that offer better performance and efficiency. The growing open ecosystem gives telecoms more choice in their technologies and partners as they modernise to cloud-native networks. Telecoms need the various technologies of the open ecosystem to work together seamlessly to offer differentiated edge services and reduce costs. That’s where Dell Technologies comes in. We began building telecom-grade servers and partnering with telecom cloud vendors to create telecom cloud platforms that were pre-integrated, pre-validated, and proven to work out of the box. We added infrastructure automation tools to make it simple to deploy and manage virtualized network functions at the edge, in the RAN, and in the core on purpose-built, standards-based, bare-metal servers. With the introduction of Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation, we’re giving telcoms a simple way to consume and deploy modern, cloud-native network infrastructure. We’re laying the cloud foundation for an open software ecosystem. Gartner predicts that by 2025, cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives, which is up from less than 40% in 202. 5G will certainly turbocharge this transformation. Ultimately, telecommunications companies need partners that can help them embrace these new open standards, actively develop architectures, and bring innovation to the market. It’s these critical partnerships that will allow the vast opportunities presented by this next chapter of telecommunications to be realised.