Transformational Change and the Telecom Industry
Here at the annual gathering of telecom leaders at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I am struck by how the industry periodically goes through transformational step changes.
These changes usually happen quite abruptly and are typically caused by shifts in usage patterns or the disruptive entry of a new business case when the priorities of yesterday may be rendered irrelevant. You only have to remember WhatsApp, and how almost overnight, it destroyed the SMS text business model. Of course, the industry has been evolving for years. We’ve moved from the remote sending of messages or voice communication by phone to today’s focus on connecting technology to people via devices, or the Cloud.
Let me use an example that may feel more familiar. Telecom infrastructure (in terms of compute, storage and networking) used to be regarded as a purely physical thing. Something to be consumed by different types of applications. The industry traditionally built appliances with infrastructure, middleware and workloads. However, with the advent of NFV, workloads have now become virtualised, delivering greater flexibility, quicker time to market and smarter use of resources.
Workload management with the Cloud and the Edge
While some companies were in a technology race to be first out of the gate with a virtualisation stack and other technologies, I am glad that the focus throughout has remained firmly on resources in the infrastructure, and more importantly, the box. With the introduction of Cloud on one side and Edge on the other, we are now seeing a new transformation. Workload management, in its various guises, is rightly becoming the focus for Telecom and NFV rather than worrying about what the workloads run on, or what stack is being used.
As a result, we are seeing the emergence of Software-defined Infrastructure (SDI) – the concept of allocating bare metal resources in geographically distributed sites and grouping them together to manage in a virtual datacentre. The advantage of SDI is that it can place workloads in either private or public Clouds to maintain data integrity while increasing speed and efficiency.
I think that this transformation is being driven by the fact that NFV is not moving towards the homogenous execution environment that was expected some years ago. Instead, it is moving in the opposite direction with more variants of virtualisation, like containers as well as the need for bare metal execution of workloads. Added to this, we are also seeing an increased need to place workloads closer the end-user for latency purposes and to deliver a better user experience, as well as the movement of workloads towards the Cloud for scale and economy. This is all without changing the environment or redeploying the products. I think that this development is pretty remarkable.
A software-defined future
In fact, I believe that we might well be seeing the real emergence of a software-defined future, where flexibility is fulfilled by automation, orchestration, policy, analytics and reporting. After all, a large share of the potential value coming from digitisation across global industries over the next decade is dependent on the telecom industry delivering productivity improvements. According to the 2017 World Economic Forum, the digital transformation of telecommunications represents a $2 trillion opportunity for industry and society.
Interesting times ahead! I’d love to hear your comments, predictions and questions. Click here to read what my colleague, James Hole from Dell EMC OEM has to say on the role of specialist telecom companies. Click here to read the views of our marketing lead for OEM Telecom solutions. Finally, if you’re at Mobile World Congress, we’d really love to meet you! Do visit our booth in Hall 3, Stand 3K10 where we are showcasing the following solutions:
- View the newly designed micro Modular Data Center (MDC) – debuting at Mobile World Congress – and learn how you can embed compute and storage capacity at the edge where data is being generated.
- Re-imagine the customer edge with new universal CPE platforms and SD-WAN Ready Node solutions.
- See how you can bring the cloud to the network with our NFV solutions and Telco Cloud offerings.
- Experience Dell EMC’s larger MDC capabilities with a virtual and interactive tour. Put on a headset and be transported to one of our latest MDC designs, the Flex Module.
- View our open and flexible rack scale infrastructure, the DSS 9000, and see how Dell EMC is enabling NEBS-compliant rack scale solutions.
- See how Dell EMC Isilon scale-out NAS and Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) solutions provide highly efficient edge-to-core-to-cloud storage with built-in analytics to unlock the value of your IoT data.
- Discover how Dell IoT Gateways transform Fleet Management by eliminating machine to machine telematics silos, for more cost savings; increased customer satisfaction and safety; and improved employee performance.
- Learn how Dell IoT is revolutionising the building services sector and facilities management by transforming high energy costs into savings with a powerful, integrated intelligent building solution.
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