Dell works with AT&T, Vodafone, Orange on network virtualization

In July 2019, Dell purchased Uhana, a company founded by Sachin Katti, the technical steering chair of the O-RAN Alliance.(Dell Technologies)

Dell Technologies has been a confusing company to follow ever since Dell announced in 2016 that it was buying EMC. After the close of that complicated $67 billion transaction, the new company — Dell Technologies — owned a majority stake in VMware along with a number of VMware’s brands.

For Dell Technologies, the year of 2018 was blur of financial maneuvering that concluded with it becoming a public company. Dell Technologies currently operates the following brands: Dell EMC, VMware, Virtustream, SecureWorks and RSA. But while Michael Dell may have a penchant for super complex financial deals, it had to have been challenging for the various marketing departments of Dell Technologies to try and distinguish themselves in this complicated web.

For instance, about a year ago, Dell EMC’s (then CTO) John Roese attempted to explain how Dell EMC was a player in the 5G wireless ecosystem.

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RELATED: Dell EMC positions itself as a player in 5G

“The 5G infrastructure will be software-defined and look like an orchestrated cloud,” said Roese in an interview with FierceWireless last year. He also said Dell EMC’s opportunity was not just in the core network but also in the radio access network (RAN) in terms of compute needs. And Roese said Dell EMC had a vision of offering a cloud operational hub that would be the authority over all of an organization’s cloud workloads.

Fast forward to 2020, and Dell Technologies’ branding and messaging has finally become more clear. And on the technology side, Roese’s visions for 5G, the RAN and the cloud operational hub are starting to solidify.

In late 2019 Michael Dell made some organizational changes, and Roese became CTO of Dell Technologies. In addition, most messaging now is coming from either Dell Technologies or VMWare.

Dell and wireless

Speaking with FierceWireless this week, Roese said, “The current 5G ecosystem is structurally challenged. A few traditional telecom providers dominate. Most tier 1 operators are using the components from the traditional telecom ecosystem. They are also trying to virtualize their core and RAN, taking technologies from the IT and cloud world. Dell has been on a journey to help modernize these architectures. We’re working with Vodafone, AT&T and Orange, helping them virtualize their cores, lifting their traditional EPCs [evolved packet cores], turning them into software that runs on data center architecture.” 

Dell is also playing pretty heavily in the O-RAN Alliance. In July 2019, it purchased Uhana, a company founded by Sachin Katti, the technical steering chair of the O-RAN Alliance.

RELATED: O-RAN aims to eliminate vendor lock-in at the radio access network

“In the last year we have become more vocal on the RAN,” said Roese. “We are very active in O-RAN. It plays to our strengths. Modern telecom draws more of its technology from IT, but it does not draw all of is tech from IT and cloud. There will still be base stations, software that draws from 3GPP. We believe there will be fantastic upgrades in radios, but the composition of the system going forward is about adopting a telco cloud.”

Roese said about 40% of the telco cores in the world are already virtualized. “We’ve clearly been helping people virtualize their cores,” he said. “With O-RAN we believe there’s a big opportunity to virtualize the RAN.”

Last year when FierceWireless talked with Roese he spoke about a vision for a cloud “operational hub.” He said that vision was realized with the launch in 2019 of the Dell Tech Cloud. “We’re trying to make all the clouds work consistently. We have a consistent SD-WAN, SDN architecture across cloud boundaries, all working as a common virtualization networking layer. The big vision is everybody is using multi-clouds; our job is to turn them into an orchestrated system.”

“The message is: this industry’s future is a combination of cloud, IT and telecom tech coming together,” concluded Roese. “Everything we see says the majority of technology will come from IT and cloud, not from telecom. We have a very big opportunity.”

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