Accelerating the Virtual Infrastructure for Open RAN

Dell Technologies and Altiostar partner to accelerate adoption of open and virtualized RAN

Over the last several years, 5G has been a cornerstone of the telecommunications industry technology development  – defining a radio air interface and technology architecture for the core network. Now that the promise of 5G is becoming a reality, industries looking to transform are implementing new use cases for 5G that are defining new network “edges” that foundationally change traffic flows and data analytics pipelines in Telecom networks.

The snowball effect of the NFV transition started in 2012 with a focus on 4G core networks. There is now growing interest in the containerization of virtual functions led by Kubernetes.  There is also significant focus on the separation of control and user plane functions with user planes utilizing various forms of accelerators, such as FPGAs, SmartNICs and GPUs, to reduce latency and improve bandwidth.

NFV is also being extended to the Radio Access Network (RAN).  RAN implementations have traditionally been proprietary bundles of hardware that are expensive to build and maintain.  A recent paper by ACG Research entitled, “Economic Advantages of Virtualizing the RAN in Mobile Operators’ Infrastructures” shows that centralized vRAN architectures enable up to 44 percent lower TCO than conventional distributed RANs in 4G networks.  The use of vRANs in 5G networks will provide the operational and capital efficiencies required to support smaller deployment models required for private and enterprise networks as well as the increased radio density to support higher bandwidth.

Dell Technologies is focused on extending its leadership in providing the essential infrastructure for network virtualization to the furthest of telecom edges – the radio access network. Dell Technologies is partnering with Altiostar to help accelerate industry adoption of virtualized and open RAN architectures, built on a combination of Intel® Xeon® servers with Intel FPGA technology.  This month, we introduced the PowerEdge XE2420, an innovative short-depth edge server, that is designed to support far edge applications like vRAN that operate in space constrained, harsh environments.  The PowerEdge XE2420 is a dense compute server and with its support of up to 4 FGPA or GPU accelerators can meet any other demanding use cases at the edge.

Altiostar pioneered open vRAN solutions and is working with some of the largest and most innovative mobile network operators to deploy these solutions in their networks. Altiostar offers an open vRAN solution where service providers deploy a radio access network using best-of-breed solutions.  Its vRAN solution disaggregates the hardware and software across the entire protocol stack allowing for different deployment architectures. This allows Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to optimize their vRAN based on their individual network requirements and to choose best of breed options that enable deployment of micro services, automation, applications and services.

Dell Technologies and Altiostar have a common vision that vRAN will change the economics and operations of 5G networks and that Open RAN technologies will enable a broader ecosystem of vendors to bring innovation to the telco industry.   Initially, Dell Technologies and Altiostar are focusing on developing and validating solutions that provide MNOs blueprints for the deployment of virtual RAN in both 4G and 5G networks.  Our engineering teams will collaborate to ensure interoperability, deployment-readiness, and define areas of joint innovation where we can partner to improve efficiency, economics, and performance of Altiostar vRAN software on Dell Technologies infrastructure.  This will help our customers improve both their bottom line and their technology as we enable them to become #5GReadyNow.

Kevin Shatzkamer

About the Author: Kevin Shatzkamer

Kevin Shatzkamer is Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider Strategy and Solutions at Dell Technologies with responsibility for strategy and architectural evolution of the intersection points of network infrastructure technologies, cloud and virtualization platforms, and software programmability. His organizational responsibility encompasses industry strategy and investment analysis, business development and go-to-market activities, technical architecture and engineering, and infrastructure evolution / futures-planning. He is also responsible for leading the Dell Technologies 5G strategy in close collaboration with industry-leading telecommunications providers globally. Mr. Shatzkamer represents Dell Technologies on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Futures Council on New Network Technologies (5G-related). Mr. Shatzkamer's ecosystem-wide, experience-centric approach to working with customers allows for the identification and exploitation of synergies between disparate organizations to derive new technology / business models for the mobile industry, especially as “5G” defines transformation from technical architecture to ecosystem and service offerings. With over 20 years of industry experience, Mr. Shatzkamer joined Dell EMC in 2016, with prior experience at Brocade (Service Provider CTO, Head of Brocade Labs) and Cisco (Distinguished Systems Engineer). He holds more than 50 patents related to all areas of work. He received a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Florida, a Master’s of Business Administration from Indiana University, and a Master’s of System Design and Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Shatzkamer is a regular speaker at industry forums and has published two books discussing the architectures and technologies shaping the future of the Mobile Internet (2G, 3G, and 4G networks), from RAN to services.