Dell Technologies is seeing an increased demand for bare metal compute from its telecom customers. And today it announced its Bare Metal Orchestrator software, which T-Mobile has already been helping it to co-develop.
Bare metal is simply common-off-the-shelf hardware — such as servers — that do not come with any software — such as an operating system — already pre-installed on it.
Dennis Hoffman, general manager of Dell Technologies’ Telecom Systems Business, said that “it’s almost universal” for telecom operators to be asking for bare metal, especially those that are deploying 5G and edge compute.
“They want to launch new services, and they need more compute broadly-distributed throughout their network,” he said. “Almost everyone is in the process of expanding their networks."
However, a large number of geographically distributed servers for compute can be difficult to deploy and manage. And it’s much more labor-intensive to manually manage distributed servers, and costs can go up dramatically.
Hence, Dell has created its Bare Metal Orchestrator software to automate the deployment and management of potentially hundreds of thousands of servers across geographic locations. The software can discover and inventory servers, bring them online and deploy software, regardless of where they reside in the network. Via automation, the software tells the targeted server what to do — such as deploying software stacks and workloads — without human intervention.
The Dell software uses the open Redfish standard to interface with any vendor's hardware. Redfish is a standards body with a number of hardware vendors as members.
Hoffman said customers want to be able to use hardware from multiple suppliers. For example, he said, “I’ve got 10 cell towers and a server at the base of each, I want to be able to turn them on, put the right software at the right time, manage and upgrade all remotely.”
The Bare Metal Orchestrator is the company’s first software to come from its Project Metalweaver initiative.
This first offering is focused on compute, but Dell has plans for software to also manage bare metal storage and network switching in future rollouts.
Hoffman said there is not a unanimous opinion about the choice of cloud stack, whether it be from VMware, Red Hat or Wind River, for example. “People want choice,” said Hoffman. He said the solution is to have bare metal, then a layer that can handle the bare metal — Dell offers its Bare Metal Orchestrator. And then operators can choose whatever cloud stack they want on top of that.
Dell has been working with T-Mobile. “Most network operators have started to move servers from their core out into their network,” said Hoffman. “T-Mobile is a co-development partner on bare metal.” T-Mobile has helped Dell by using the bare metal code and giving feedback.
“As we prepare for the future of 5G mobility and edge, we at T-Mobile have been closely collaborating with Dell Technologies to develop a product that allow engineers to drastically reduce the time spent managing thousands of servers across hundreds of sites,” said Quaid Campbell, director of network engineering cloud services at T-Mobile, in a statement.
Dell Technologies Bare Metal Orchestrator will be available globally in November 2021.