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5G is going to be instrumental in our future. It will be an enabler of not only faster connectivity, but more reliable communication that will propel smart cities, autonomous vehicles and the next generation of tele-health services.
With both line of sight mmWave technology and the greater reach of 5G’s other variant, Sub-6, the newest generation of connectivity, will also help deliver more robust connectivity to rural areas that have long lacked access to faster more reliable wireless service. In short, 5G is a powerhouse and it will support a wave of innovation. But to reach the promise of 5G, it will take new partnerships, and a more IT focused approach that leverages modernized architectures and professionals to support the software defined networks, intelligent edge computing and cyber security capabilities that will allow the realization of 5G.
At this year’s Dell Technologies Summit, the company increased its focus on the 5G narrative, building on their MWC (Mobile World Congress) and Dell Technologies World narrative around 5G being so much more than just the next generation of wireless communication. This new wave of technology will require rethinking network design to support the four core transformations that we most often hear about from CEO and founder Michael Dell.
Here is a breakdown of the four core transformations as I see it.
- Digital Transformation: With the massive growth in data, 5G will be instrumental in helping to transport, aggregate, process and leverage massive datasets that will be a byproduct of the Internet of Things. Delivering digital services will be critical to improving modern experiences for users with the data at the disposal of enterprise, government and municipalities.
- IT Transformation: The future of 5G is built on software defined infrastructures. Network Function Virtualization (NFV), open networking and storage, cloud and virtualized radio access networks (C-Ran and V-Ran), containers and full multi-cloud compatibility are critical to 5G deployments.
- Workforce Transformation: Building the 5G networks of the future will require new skills and capabilities. The network engineer of the past specialized in proprietary, vertically integrated networks, the network engineer of the future will be an expert in DevOps and will be capable of supporting the build of cloud-native infrastructure that will support the delivery of the network in a software world that embraces massive volumes of data and leverages that data to put machine learning and AI into developing better customer experiences and more efficiently run and delivered connectivity to business and consumers.
- Security Transformation: We have entered a time where our data is a precious commodity. Whether business data or personal data, the ability to deliver security to the network is going to be critical to consumer trust and an opportunity for network operators to differentiate from the competition. The more robust and dynamic the 5G network, the more operators can deliver on the promise of security and potentially monetize enhanced security that consumers and enterprises need. The modern network can leverage massive data at its disposal to automate and expedite security and this will be a critical enhancement that will come with 5G.
5G: A Transformative Approach
Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to listen in on Dell’s strategy for 5G. What I appreciate most about their focus is that it isn’t what many in the industry like to deliver in the form of a product dump, but rather this transformative approach that looks at the vast organizational and societal transformations required to deliver 5G. As someone that has studied the future, and analyzes the now, the realization is that 5G is evolutionary and does require material changes to the way networks are architected.
I believe the broad vision of transformation and then narrowing in on its hardware/software architecture that includes converged infrastructure for the data center and the edge is an important approach. With 5G being a catalyst for partnerships between carrier, cloud and data-center providers, the ability to 1) move from hardware to software, 2) develop cloud-native applications and software defined infrastructure to simplify the deployment of networks and 3) modernize applications will be the key for carriers to deliver next generation services. This shift will be one that enables carriers to move away from traditional proprietary technologies to a more open and disaggregated approach with improvements in flexibility, automation, and costs.
Putting 5G Into Focus
Dell has a clear focus on putting these building blocks together through its broad horizontal portfolio and deep vertical expertise. By working with not just carriers, but the industry that will be embracing next generation networks to build more reliable connectivity using capabilities, like 5G, it is slicing to bring dependable connections to challenging work environments.
Dell Technologies may not be known for 5G the way a device maker or telco will be, based upon the massive consumption of services that is in our not so distant future. However, behind the curtain lies a massive transformation in the way networks are built, and data is leveraged and secured to deliver on the promise of 5G.
Dell Technologies has shown it is ready to accept the challenge of modernizing the network in partnership with the carriers and operators that will bring 5G to the masses. This role, while perhaps not as shiny as delivering a fancy new 5G device (check out its CES 2020 5G device announcement here), will be critical in making faster, safer and more meaningful communications possible. And to me, that is a very important place for a company like Dell Technologies to plant its flag as 5G grows exponentially over the next few years.
This post was commissioned by Dell Technologies, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell Technologies’ positions or strategies.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.