Dell launches telco cloud automation suite

Dell has announced new automation software and services to make the telco cloud transition easier.

Dell will have new software for cloud infrastructure automation, new capabilities for its Telecom Infrastructure Blocks and new partners on show at MWC.

Its new Infrastructure Automation Suite is designed to automate the orchestration and lifecycle management of multi-vendor, network cloud infrastructure. Dell has also added this suite  its Telco Infrastructure Blocks, a pre-integrated and certified telco cloud solution that it has already launched.

Andrew Vaz, vice president of product management, Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business, said, “We’ve taken the infrastructure portion of the stack and maddde it easily automatable and easy to operate in the way a modern telecom cloud should be.”

Vaz said that Dell is “really seeing a move in the telecom market” with operators asking how to cloudify their networks. A key driver in the core is telcos looking to move from vertical tech stacks to moving the workloads into a horizontal cloud foundation. There’s also a move to distribute networks meaning “we’re getting a lot of questions about edge deployment”, according to Vaz.

“We have created a set of tools that use our expertise on cloud transformation as well as our expertise in the telecom network to ease the operational difficulties of building and running the telecom cloud infrastructure.”

“We’re seeing a pretty radical transformation and thought process happening for edge services – whether it’s on the telecom operator’s edge on-prem network, or telecom operators being asked to put functionality at the Enterprise site on their edge. But what we do see is a push out of the overall telco cloud both on prem and at the enterprise.”

A third driver has been Open RAN and Cloud or vRAN. “All the major operators are evaluating this. They’re characterising these solutions either PoCs or trials, or even limited deployments where they’re trying to see how these systems work, how they can take advantage of the technology.”

Telcos also see the cloud as a means to move more quickly, be more agile and to allow developers to be more productive.

All of this means, according to Daz, that operators want to take the toolsets and capabilities out of the IT group and move them into the network. “They want to understand how they can do that. Now, this is a new problem set to be honest. Not all of the network has the same characteristics that you would see in a data centre. It’s much more distributed. You’re seeing different environmental conditions and just different operating models.”

So what Dell has created is its Infrastructure Automation Suite (IAS). This is a set of software designed to automate the orchestration and lifecycle management of multi-vendor, network cloud infrastructure at scale.

Vaz: “We have created a set of tools that use our expertise on cloud transformation as well as our expertise in the telecom network to ease the operational difficulties of building and running the telecom cloud infrastructure.”

The Automation Suite provides:

  • Automated configuration and provisioning which simplifies server configurations and software deployment.
  • Infrastructure discovery and automation down to the network’s infrastructure layer with open APIs and Dell services to support integration with the telecom business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS).
  • Telemetry on equipment temperature, CPU and memory utilisation, to help AI operations make more informed decisions on network operations.

Vaz said that much of the IAS work eliminates the pre Day 0 work that has to happen to define outcomes, design the infrastructure, validate and certify it. “We’ve talked to Major Tier 1 operators that have up to four teams taking up to six to nine months, in some cases longer, to go through all this pre Day 0 type of work.”

Then the IAS suite also supports operational automation from Day 1 onwards. “How do I upgrade it? How do I patch the network? How do I scale it? How do I monitor the network for any issues. How do I remediate it if something goes wrong. So there’s a lot of work that has to happen.”

“And the cloud instantiated model is different from what we’ve had before. Before we had a single vertical stack in many cases. For RAN they might purchase from a single vendor and apply that for a specific region as an example. Now what’s happened is we’ve horizontally segregated it. They might have an infrastructure vendor, a CaaS vendor, a workload vendor for their virtual DU. How do you get all of that to work? And that is what keeps network operators up at night.”

“We’ve taken some of the assets at Dell that we’ve looked at over the last couple of years like the Cloudify acquisition, we brought in that intent-driven orchestration, we have the capability to bring in blueprints now so the operator can customise their workflows and their workloads.

“We also offer the ability to aggregate telemetry from multiple pieces of the infrastructure and send that northbound to offer more functionality. In this system we have a set of APIs northbound that we can integrate to any of the brownfield OSS domain orchestrators or SMOs. And we have a set of southbound plugins for various different areas. We have our compute capabilities to manage servers. We have Bare Metal Orchestrator, which we had already built, and we take that functionality to manage our server fleet. It’s very horizontally scalable. We can actually manage thousands upon thousands of servers with this which our customers are doing.”

Zero touch vRAN deployment

One integration with Amdocs with an EMEA operator is driving a zero touch operating model for an Open RAN deployment, plugging into the Amdocs SMO.

“The SMO will call the Dell IAS and we do two things. First, we deploy the bare metal servers and operating systems. That is actually critical – that we can eliminate all the manual tasks required. With the Suite we can install the correct firmware bios, keep everything up to date on a verified stack or a golden config. We can then deploy the CaaS in particular. What we’re doing here is bring up the Red Hat Open Shift management clusters. The SMO will then go and deploy the RAN workload that the that the vendor recommends. It’s a nicely modular, hierarchical automation system that an operator can use as they virtualise their RAN and to deploy it in terms of a zero touch methodology.”

Dell has also integrated the IAS into its Telecom Infrastructure Blocks, which is an engineered system that is fully integrated by Dell. TIBs include CaaS from Red Hat and from Wind River as partners, and now can be fully automated using the capabilities of the IAS.

As well as including the IAS in the Blocks, other advancements include Support for 5G core workloads running at the edge. There is also now Certification on Infrastructure Blocks, to test and certify 5G Core, OSS, BSS and open RAN workloads for Dell Telecom Infrastructure Blocks in the Dell Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab.

Certification confirms the software and workloads from various partners, beginning with 6D Technologies, Amdocs, Casa Systems, Expeto and MATRIXX Software.