As comms companies transform to New IP architectures, they're looking to transition their networks from special-purpose hardware and software to commodity components that look a lot like enterprise IT. Dell, a leader in enterprise IT, sees that transition as an opportunity to enter the comms market. And NFV is key to the strategy.
Unlike other vendors that are rolling out their own NFV software, Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) is sticking to its core business: providing platforms on which to deploy other vendors' software.
As traditional network equipment providers such as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)/Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) move to virtual networking, they need to transition from proprietary hardware to standardized components. That's where Dell sees itself coming in -- as a long-standing provider of standardized servers and storage.
Dell sees itself providing the infrastructure for all the different directions of NFV -- the core, edge, RAN and other parts of the network -- including servers, storage, networking, element management and fabric management.
Dell's NFV strategy is an important part of Dell's overall comms networking push. "We see [comms] primarily as a greenfield opportunity for Dell to expand," Jeff Baher, Dell senior director, NFV strategy and marketing, tells Light Reading. "The carriers are making a significant architectural rethink. They're making it around sets of technology we have significant expertise in, especially as it takes on more cloud-like properties."
Baher adds, "There is an assumption that it's easy to run on an X86. But deploying 20 or 30 thousand servers isn't a trivial task. That is something we know. We're designed for hyper scale."
Dell provides data center optimization, including hardware, virtualization and platform software, and managed services. Dell's hardware can be modularized, containerized and air-cooled to optimize for space and energy efficiency and critical criteria at hyper scale, says Baher.
Dell's partners provide branded virtual network function (VNF), NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) software, running on Dell's platform.
"We're supplying, at the lower level, the converged infrastructure, operating systems and element management," Baher says.
The Dell NFV Platform, introduced in late 2014, bundles server hardware with enterprise SDN software to provide an integrated foundation for NFV. The platform includes Dell's Active Fabric Manager software, with an SDN Controller and Orchestrator on Intel Xeon PowerEdge servers. (See Dell Dips Toe in Carrier NFV Market.)
As part of Dell's networking platform strategy, the company introduced Operating System 10, a Linux networking operating system designed to disaggregate hardware, software and apps, and to pave the way for eventually converging compute, network and storage on a single infrastructure. NFV is one of the use cases for OS10, Baher says. (See Dell Sets Stage for Software-Defined Data Center.)
Dell partners with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) (formerly Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)), cross-selling AlcaLu's CloudBand NFV on the Dell platform. (See Nokia & Alcatel-Lucent: What's Going On? and Nokia Gains Control of Alcatel-Lucent.)
Dell is also partnered with Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) for comms companies who "take a more radical, revolutionary approach, not looking to talk first with their incumbents," Baher says.
The partnerships go beyond just bundling, Baher says. "Anyone that's going to provide a common platform needs to understand the hardware and software and anything that runs on top of that. That's pretty important."
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