See What’s Cooking at OTEL: SoftBank Bake-Off

Dell Technologies Open Telecommunications Ecosystem Lab helps Softbank accelerate their 5G Core vendor qualification.

This blog is co-authored by Paul Norkus, OTEL and 5G Converged Core Product Marketing Manager, Dell Technologies.

If you’ve ever watched Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen or Nailed It, you’ll know that too many cooks in the kitchen can quickly turn into chaos. In the technology world, we have a similar scenario known as a “bake-off,” where companies can test various vendor solutions in a kind of technology test kitchen to see which solution performs the best. This can not only get messy, but it can also become very expensive, especially when you factor in things like buying the test hardware, hosting the secure DevOps environment and hiring the experienced people to run it all.

In order to cook up better solutions for the future without all that cost and complexity, Dell Technologies created its own state-of-the-art testing lab known as the Open Telecommunications Ecosystem Lab (or OTEL for short). OTEL provides a secure, hosted test kitchen for all manner of projects, from bake-offs and proofs of concept to solution integration testing. The goal of OTEL is to foster collaboration between operators and the vendor ecosystem to deliver the next generation of open telecommunications solutions, from Open RAN systems to 5G cloud networks.

SoftBank Kicks Off its 5G Cloud Bake-off

One of the more interesting projects that took place in OTEL is a core software providers bake-off for SoftBank’s 5G core cloud network. SoftBank invited some of the leading providers to participate in the performance testing and will ultimately select from this group to move forward with their 5G core cloud implementation. Traditionally, a project like this would take weeks to set up, require all-new hardware and present numerous challenges in terms of providing the security and integrity needed for multi-vendor performance assurance. Fortunately for SoftBank and its potential core software providers, OTEL was already set up for success from day one.

Despite its reputation as one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, SoftBank recognizes competition for 5G services is fierce. Their 5G core cloud initiative is critical to SoftBank’s plans for 5G services, from private mobile networks to IoT applications. With OTEL, SoftBank can ensure they’re building that future on the right foundation. For the participating core software providers, OTEL allows them to showcase their solutions in a secure, multi-tenant, trusted environment while providing the necessary tools to deploy, manage and operate their cloud-native software on Dell’s telco-grade servers and VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform. VMware played a critical role in the joint program management and onboarding of the vendors for this engagement, which was crucial to helping SoftBank meet its objectives.

Leveraging a Proven Recipe for Success

Dell’s goal with OTEL is to open the future to more innovation by moving away from proprietary, single-vendor solutions. Telecommunications operators can test any mix of vendor solutions in OTEL – even solutions that feature non-Dell hardware and software. Because Dell partners with so many companies, we’re open to involvement from everyone. A prebuilt, open, state-of-the-art testing, integration and validation lab offers a variety of benefits to operators and vendors including:

    • More flexibility for product development and integration
    • A centralized cost structure that saves operators and vendors 40% on average
    • Faster time-to-market for new solutions through a prebuilt lab environment
    • Remote access to resources through a secure VPN connection
    • Availability of OTEL’s Solution Integration Platform tools and automation to support a streamlined DevOps environment

For SoftBank, their 5G core cloud bake-off consisted of several phases. In the first phase, most of the providers onboarded their cloud-native functions on Dell hardware in the OTEL environment through secure ingestion mechanisms to conduct remote testing using secure VPN access. In the next phase, the vendors conducted resiliency testing. Subsequent phases included performance tweaks and improvements in solution code – all of which was done remotely without setting foot in OTEL’s physical environment using our hybrid lab connectivity capability.

Below is a typical high-level architecture of the multi-tenant testbeds:

Workflow chart of OTEL architecture.

“Dell OTEL services helped us to accelerate our 5G Core NEP qualification process by providing a vendor-neutral collaborative platform and access to advanced tool sets and expertise, which was made available to the partners. As the industry journeys further towards a disaggregated stack with individual ISVs offering their own cloud-native solutions, Dell OTEL services can serve as a collaborative platform hub, facilitating interoperability validation services and enabling CSPs to accelerate adoption of solutions, de-risk deployments and lower TCO.” – SoftBank executive

Come Into our Kitchen

At Dell Technologies, we’re committed to the open future of telecommunications, whether it’s 5G or the next generation of mobile solutions. In the last few years, the telecommunications industry has embraced open technologies from cloud network architectures and Kubernetes to Open RAN systems. But despite the opportunities for innovation and cost savings that open systems bring, there are very few companies that can bring it all together in a secure, partner-friendly environment. OTEL is truly a one-of-a-kind facility that is open to both telecommunications operators and network equipment providers for testing, validation, integration and more.

If flexibility and security are important to your future, we invite you to consider OTEL for your next PoC or bake-off, or to integrate your products with Dell’s growing family of telco-grade hardware and software. The opportunities are enormous. The barriers to entry shouldn’t be. Kickstart your future with Dell Technologies and find out how OTEL can help you get cooking on what’s next. To get started, contact your Dell account representative or join our partner certification program.

Nikunj Vaidya

About the Author: Nikunj Vaidya

Nikunj Vaidya works as Director, Software Engineering at Dell Technologies Inc., leading customer engineering for OTEL (Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab) team. He is passionate to collaborate with customers and partners, to build and validate cloud-native 5G solutions with life-cycle management at OTEL that addresses their business objectives. Prior to Dell, he has worked at AWS, Cisco, and other companies in Sr. Engineering roles driving improvements in the software quality and customer experience.