As global telecom operators and communications service providers experience tremendous strain on their network infrastructure – Mobile Edge Computing or MEC can help operators remove this strain from their network and create opportunities for them to do more with their network infrastructure. Dell is positioning its solutions in this direction to drive MEC.
Erwin Meyer, Regional Sales Director, OEM Solutions Group, Dell speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the way Dell is targeting telecom ecosystem and what is the company’s strategy to grow in this space.
What are the key priorities that you have today when it comes to generating business and increasing profitability for Dell?
Dell has been in the telecom industry for quite some time. The Dell OEM solutions team is building relationships with customers that have their own intellectual property (IP) and we are bundling that IP with the Dell capabilities –be it Dell hardware, servers, or even our software solutions.
On the OEM side, what we then do is to work with customersand rebrand Dell solutions when we are bundling it with customer IP. We may focus on specific requirements that our customers have.What we are seeing, for instance, is that many of our customers are looking for long life cycle solutions.
Certifications, especially in the telecom industry, are really expensive, so our customers really benefit from having platforms that are available much longer than the standard platforms. Those are the areas that we are focusing on today.
Some of our customers want to enhance their brand image in the market – they want to put their own branding on our solutions and we work with them to make that happen, so that goes up to the level where we are rebranding our manuals and rebranding our boxes, helping our customers to succeed in the market.
If you are looking at our customer base in the NFV space, they could be the likes of software vendors, ISVs or system integrators (SIs). Basically, we work with any customer across multiple industries, and specific to this event, we are targeting customersfrom the telecom industry. Customers often look at Dell as their infrastructure partner. And that’s the market that we are aiming for here in CommunicAsia.
When you talk about telecommunications today, most of the operators and communication service providers (CSPs), are targeting the space of digital enablement by virtue of offering a lot of “new age services” to their customers. So in that scenario what kind of solutions do you have to accelerate this process for operators?
What we have here at CommunicAsia are some of the solutions we’ve launched to market with our ecosystem partners. So we have invited our partners Saguna and Wind River, an Intel company, to join us here.
What we are trying to build arevery smart elastic network edges, either mobile or enterprise edges that can be configured on demand, that is agile and more programmable.That’s the goal we are trying to achieve. At Dell, we are always trying to bring in the right partners to be able to solve the most difficult problems for customers.
Coming back on the technology front, a lot of operators are now looking at virtualizing their various functions – that is where NFV and SDN are becoming very important for the ecosystem. What are your offerings in this particular space?
We have a very disaggregated approach for NFV and SDN. We have taken the approach of disaggregating it in the horizontal layer whereby we provide the platform and the solutions to be able to load up virtual network functions going forward. We work with network equipment providers (NEPs), third party software vendors, partners like Saguna and Wind River to be able to achieve this. Our approach is to either work with traditional players or we have our own solutions.
What’s interesting to note is that in previous years when we joined CommunicAsia, I think everyone was just talking about proofs of concept (POCs). This year really marks the year when we are starting to see live deployments. For instance, Dell and Verizon, together with Red Hat and Big Switch, are now working on the largest NFV deployment globally – we are talking about 5 US data centres and we will go international with the deployment very shortly.
So that’s really a big turnaround. We are seeing it in the Japanese market as well where we are working with large CSPs and actually have some production environments now.
In this kind of scenario, what is your go to market strategy? You mentioned you’re targeting a couple of companies where you are working along with Saguna. What about working directly with the local operators within the markets itself? What is your approach to target the operators?
If you are looking at Dell, we are an end-to-end solutions provider so we deliver all the components. It is not only the desktop and notebooks, but also the networking, computing and the storage solutions. That gives Dell a lot of options. In certain situations, we will work closely together with System Integrators (SIs), in other situations we can work directly with the CSPs or network providers. And it depends on what the preference of the CSP is in the given moment. So we are flexible and will find the best route to market to make sure our customers benefit most.
For the service providers, one of the customer segments of ours, we can directly sell our hardware solutions, including servers and other engineered solutions to our service providers to help connect their networking infrastructure for the network function virtualization solutions. On Dell’s perspective, we are closely working with our partners within the telco ecosystem to provide these solutions to customers. We are completely open, and our solutions are compatible with our partners’ to offer customers the best value that meet their needs.
Overall, the next generation “enablement” space is getting really hot, with almost all the traditional networking vendors are jumping on to this whether it is Cisco, Avaya, Huawei, Ericsson – these are traditionally very strong players on the operator side. In this scenario, what are some of the USPs and offerings that Dell would bring for the telecoms customers?
What you see in many cases is that we have experience in virtualizing data centers for enterprises. We can bring our experience in that area to the telecommunication data centers and that is where a lot of the NEP’s and CSP’s value the experience that we are bringing in. Also, if you are looking at this from the SDN perspective, we have a pretty unique offering.
The idea is to make sure that we have a platform of choice that can host networks such as Cisco or Huawei. So vendors/operators are looking for a platform that can host both these solutions with no complications. You need to have a common platform and that is what Dell is trying to deliver to market.
We are trying to not compete against these vendors but we are trying to move them up the chain to be able to do what they have been doing best, providing the NFV platforms to customers.On the SDN side, we have a completely disaggregated approach – we deliver white-boxes and we work with partners like Big Switch or Cumulus to provide their operating systems.
So are there any POCs going on in India with regards to the concepts that you have spoken about on the telecoms side?
Yes, we are working on a number of POCs across the region which we are not able to talk about at the moment. However, as we mentioned, Dell has the largest NFV deployment to-date on public reference worldwide – we are collaborating with Red Hat, Big Switch and Verizon for that. And we are working on numerous opportunities across APAC and in the US. No region is left out and we have our own teams locally to support deployments in every region.
The key thing to note is that many of our customers are starting to look at mobile edge computing (MEC). We have Saguna here at our booth – interesting Dell ecosystem partner. We’re noticing that a lot of the traffic here at our booth is showing that the industry is going into that direction.We really see that is one of the next hot items where a lot of our customers are talking about what can we do at the edge when we don’t want to have all that traffic in the network and increasingly we are working with customers to build solutions there.
This is about the smart age and that is where one of our very main focus is. We have the backing from the senior management team here to push that vision from that so Dell is trying to be the platform of choice for the edge – to be able to build an agile edge that will allow service providers to open up a new revenue sharing opportunity whereby operators would be enriched and the upgraders will start providing platforms where OTT providers will be launching services like portal based service, it could be futuristic but that is how it is. Which means they are moving away from the dumb pipe scenario to the platform as a service for external vendors. It is a lot of new revenue market, new opportunities for operators. That is where our focus is, to help our customers.