A rolling stone gathers no moss, but for the telecommunications industry, a comet is perhaps a more appropriate analogy. The telecom industry is going through a high speed evolution, zooming into new technologies and destroying the status quo. No longer is it acceptable to wait; the future will not be sustained by ‘long-fingered’ business approaches. Organizations must develop ahead of the wave. And believe me; doing this is not as easy as it sounds.
A Look Back So We Can See the Future
In the past, large network equipment providers (NEPs) were providing systems as appliances for operators. They purchased customized OEM equipment (from our team amongst others) and sold it onto service providers. Dell EMC continues to do this today as the worldwide leader in OEM solutions.
However, with the introduction of NFV (if you haven’t read that seminal manifesto from 2012 where the NFV fire was lit, you can check it out here), there is a paradigm shift taking place. If operators want to generate more revenues, they have to become more agile in spinning up (and down) new services.
Customer demand for instant everything and data everywhere is putting huge pressure on the system.
And with this comes the urgent need to virtualize networks. In this new paradigm, if the operators are to make money out of bringing new services to market, we’re talking about multiple services and multi-tenancy on multi-vendor environments, all operating on the same infrastructure. In short, the infrastructure almost becomes independent of the services and appliances.
So what does all this mean for network builders?
Network Builders Must Future-Proof
The network builders that I regularly meet with are heavily involved in product development. This includes everything from niche solutions as components of a wider network role, like video transcoding, network monitoring, network acceleration, network analytics and data packet security, through to the bigger network equipment providers building complete solutions for service providers directly. All are focused on providing the building blocks for a dynamic infrastructure environment, fueling hyper scale cloud environments and supporting network virtualization.
So where does OEM come into play? While the model is evolving, telecom is still a high touch technical business and realistically one cannot just go out and buy equipment off the shelf, install, and just walk away. Network builders need to provide agile, sustainable solutions through partnerships with experts from the broader ecosystem. In my view, the best approach to future proofing is to invest in a partnership with a world-class OEM solutions provider. At the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that the right suppliers and partners are at the table to build the best solutions for customers.
My Top Five
While all of the new telecommunications technologies are critical enablers, I believe that network builders need to be actively exploring additional transformative business models to fully deliver the advances and breakthroughs required in this industry, 5G is not far away. This is most relevant for Network Builders who are also OEMs as they are constantly looking for ways to innovate and achieve the most effective services for their customers.
In my book, these are the top five requirements, network builders should be demanding of future OEM partners.
- An ability to create interoperable software environments
- Ask your OEM provider: do you have testing and lab facilities? Can we create proof of concepts together, and can you help me build out a robust environment for service providers?
- An ability to provide infrastructure building blocks: compute, storage and networking
- A stellar supply chain with global reach and scale
- A flexible consumption model with flexible and scalable options for growth
- Above all else, insist that your OEM solutions provider adopts a customer-first approach. To succeed, we must all put ourselves in the shoes of an operator and service provider. This must be the starting point for your dialog.
Think of it this way – today might be the slowest day ever. Tomorrow’s pace is going to be so much faster. Are you ready?
I work for one of the most dynamic businesses in Dell EMC, the OEM Solutions Division, where we have a dedicated team of experts working with telecom industry network players and stakeholder. We are committed to developing and contributing to the broader telecom ecosystem.
We’d love to hear from you and welcome your comments and questions.
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