Dell’s entry into the telecom market has dovetailed nicely with the rise of 5G cloud-native networks.

Dell (NYSE: DELL) is a very new entrant to the telecoms software and hardware business, Dennis Hoffman, SVP of the telecom systems business at the company, reminded Silverlinings on a recent call.

The company founded its telco business unit in 2020 and stood up the unit in 2021. ”It’s been a great journey,” Hoffman said.

This journey started with the merger of Dell and EMC in 2016. Around the same time, Hoffman noted, Microsoft (nasdaq:msft) and Intel (nasdaq:intl) also begun to become more deeply involved in the telecom business

Dell has “seen a great deal of growth, a lot of engagement globally right now, and expanding interest from tier 1 [operators] in the world, to tier 2s, and tier 3s.” Hoffman said.

Are you cloud native?

One of the questions that operators are asking right now, Hoffman intimated, is how they can best take advantage of the cloud native features of 5G to lower costs, speed up deployments and add new cellular services.

“How do I begin to capitalize on things like the cloud-native capabilities of cellular specification like 5G right to really transform my network from the core to the edge all the way out to the [radio access network] RAN,” Hoffman questioned.

What Hoffman counts as cloud native is a network running on an “open, let’s say, an x86, platform, and I’m using some sort of containizeration or virtualization software to manage applications,” he said.

The process of becoming “truly cloud native” is a transformational one,” he added, noting that the process is “not going nearly as fast” as people originally predicted it would.

(Ed. note: Turns out the move from a monolithic infrastructure to commercial off the shelf (COT) still takes time! We weren’t surprised.)

Customers on the cloud journey

Nonetheless, Dell has plenty of customers making their own journeys to the cloud.

Hoffman highlights Dish as one of only pure cloud native operators. Dell has been helping Dish build out to meet its 70% coverage target. Although, we might note the costs of building out their 5G network are still telling on the greenfield operator after its recent Q1 earnings report.

Across the pond, Hoffman says “Vodafone is leading the charge. … We’re working with Vodafone on their Open RAN trials and learning  a ton from them about the brownfield.” Dell is learning about shared networks, among other things, from Vodafone, he said.

In Japan, the company is working with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, Hoffman said. “Literally, almost all of Japan is pushing pretty hard on this,” Hoffman noted. As is South Korea, he noted.

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