There is little doubt that communication service providers (CSPs) will need to extend and increase their RAN capacity to accommodate new 5G services. CSPs are using their 5G buildouts as an opportunity to move away from legacy, proprietary RAN technology to an Open RAN architecture. Current legacy RAN technology has some advantages, such as performance, and it is a complete end-to-end solution with one neck to choke for support. However, the proprietary and closed interfaces have resulted in a lack of innovation and overall control of the RAN, frustrating CSPs and motivating them to look for an alternative solution. As they transition to 5G, the ability to innovate at the edge of the network and meet the performance and latency requirements is critical to take full advantage of what 5G offers.
Open RAN standardizes the interfaces between the radio unit (RU), distributed unit (DU), and centralized unit (CU), opening the door for new RAN vendors and drive new, innovative solutions. The open interfaces enable a diversity of suppliers, increasing flexibility for CSPs as they can choose which vendors they want to deploy. This will result in multivendor solutions, a drastic change from the current RAN environment of proprietary vendor lock-in solutions.
Along with the promise of no vendor lock-in and accelerated innovation, Open RAN also brings about some new challenges. Open RAN’s flexibility enables CSPs to pick and choose which vendors they deploy in their network will also create some complexities. For example, a CSP might choose to deploy one RAN vendor in one geographic location and another RAN vendor in another location based on cost, performance, and customer needs. Or, a CSP could utilize one vendor for the virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU) at the cell site and another vendor for the virtualized Centralized Unit (vCU) as an aggregation point in the network. As great as having this flexibility is for CSPs, it also creates complexities since multiple vendors must be integrated to work together seamlessly into one solution.
To help alleviate this challenge, Dell Technologies is working with a diverse and loosely coupled open ecosystem of partners to develop validated solutions that will alleviate some of the integration complexities of multivendor solutions. Together with our partners Intel, VMware, and Mavenir, we’ve developed an Open RAN solution reference architecture that is now available to CSPs as a technology preview. The preview offers a complete Open RAN solution, including Mavenir’s virtualized, containerized vCU, vDU, vRU functions, VMware’s telco cloud platform, and orchestration tools deployed on Dell’s telco-grade PowerEdge servers featuring Intel scalable processors. As a pre-validated technology preview, the Open RAN reference architecture gives CSPs a trusted, best-of-breed solution to build out the 5G RAN of the future.
- Mavenir: Centralized Management Service (mCMS), Smart Deployment as a Service (SDaaS), Analytics, 5G Centralized Unit-Control Plane (CU-CP), Centralized Unit-User Plane (CU-UP), 5G Distributed Unit (DU), and Mavenir Telco Cloud Integration Layer (MTCIL)
- VMware: Virtualized Infrastructure, Platform as a Service (PaaS), Container as a Service (CaaS) and the Orchestrator and Automation layers
- Dell Technologies: PowerEdge XR11, XR12, and R750 servers power the Open RAN solution
- Intel: 3rd generation Xeon Scalable server processors, eASIC hardware acceleration, and FlexRAN 5G reference architecture
With our commitment to Open RAN, Dell Technologies is leading a cross-industry initiative to bring technology from the world’s leading RAN vendors to bear on the most critical challenges that CSPs are facing today. Our deep and long-standing relationships with VMware, Intel, and Mavenir allow us to develop and test solutions that embrace open standards, multivendor ecosystems, and the latest market innovations.
Open RAN technology is critical to the success of 5G. It opens the future to more innovation, smoother and more reliable supply chain operation, and competitive pricing. Dell Technologies is committed to Open RAN technology through its partnerships, industry alliances, and growing investment in 5G research, development, and services. To find out more about the technology preview, download the solution brief or the tech preview reference architecture.