Covering Disruptive Technology Powering Business in The Digital Age

Home > DTA news > News > Dell Technologies World: The 5G Panel
Dell Technologies World: The 5G Panel
May 3, 2019 News


A sub-theme that ran through many of the presentations and talks at Dell Technologies World 2019 was 5G. Every major keynote at least made one reference to it. Place in a deeper context, when Dell talks about “edge to core to cloud” and placing the compute closer to the data, they also talk about moving that data at speed in real time between the three “resting places”. The part of the jigsaw that needs to be put in place to make that viable is a ubiquitous wireless connection with enormous bandwidth. That’s why 5G kept cropping up. The goal of analytics across edge core and cloud will need 5G in place to truly manifest.

Given this background, it was with some interest that DTA attended a special press briefing and panel dedicated to the subject. Dell assembled the following panel of experts to discuss 5G in general and as it pertains to Dell’s strategy.

Dell Technologies – Bryan Jones SVP & GM, OEM & IOT Sol

Intel – Caroline Chan SVP strategy

VMware – Shekar Ayyar, EVP, Strategy & Corp Dev, GM telco NFV Group 

Pivotal – James Watters, SVP, Strategy

 Amit Malhotra, VP Viavi Solutions

Some of the preambles helped add even more context to the discussion. Shekar from VMware explained that things like distributed cloud and modular cloud at the edge is essentially new for most Telco, so unlike any other iteration of Telco connectivity, getting 5G established will require a new level of collaboration with a whole new set of partners.

Pivotal’s James Waters brought a perspective from the application providers point of view. Pivotal are delivering data-driven applications at scale already, and they see 5G as an enabler for a whole new level of application ability. Pivotal understand that with 5G, they will be able to build and deliver applications that provide insight and AI at the edge which was never before possible.

VMware’s Shekar added a voice of caution to this strand of thought, explaining that it will take some time for carriers to grasp the full picture. Collaboration with companies in the Dell family is helping to increase their understanding of how they will need to interact and interface with things like hyper-scale cloud providers. In short, Shekar feels the carriers have some work to do to understand where the future of IT is headed. Watters concurred but also felt that Dell is showing leadership in providing the building blocks to enable the carriers to build out infrastructures that are software-defined and ready to work with enterprise-class clouds.

Bryan Jones from Dell explained how things like virtualisation have an important role to play in investment protection. 5G will be an entirely new infrastructure very different from 4G but building virtualisation into the mix will help to protect existing investment sunk into 4G and make it operational with the new generation.

Intel’s Caroline Chan told us that in her experience, the industry is ready to move with sectors like retail and gaming already exploring the possibilities that 5G will offer. Pivotal’s James Waters corroborated the importance of Bryan Jones’s points about investment protection, saying that while retail is keen to reap benefits of 5G, many are working on legacy models and making any changes is deemed costly, they have small pipes. Companies like Dell with VMware and Pivotal can help bridge this gap to adoption between the end customers and the carriers.

Amit Malhotra, Vice President for Viavi Solutions, did a great job of summarising the current challenges and opportunities with 5G. He has a unique perspective as in his role. He spends a lot of time with operators, carriers, integrators, and network manufacturers. However, ultimately he spends a lot of time with consumers of the services these vendors supply and brings the user experience to bear in his consideration of what 5G needs to be.

Amit asked a compelling question, “What exactly is 5G going to be?” While many people describe it as 4G on steroids, Amit disagrees with this assessment, it’s more than just high speed. 5G is about connecting network and cloud, it’s also about varied devices at the edge that requires different network characteristics. 5G will need to be able to roll various legacy bandwidth offerings into a single network.

What Amit was stressing is that 5G is bigger and more complex than anything that has come before, at the same time there are other complications including the fact that it is built on a completely different network model, new frequency bands and new devices. The standards have not yet been nailed down, and there is a lot more work to do before the standards are finalised.

So, what needs to happen for 5G to finally arrive?

According to Amit, for 5G to be fully market ready, it will need critical mass from the whole ecosystem of vendors, carriers, software providers, and device manufacturers all writing to the specification. In his estimation it will be around 2021 before 5G is truly market ready. Major providers in the space can define ratification of this. The world’s biggest phone manufacturer Apple has already stated it will not produce a 5G phone until 2020 because they don’t feel the industry will provide a network that will be usable until that time.

The last word on the panel, brought the conversation back to Dell. Amit has the choice of who he partners with and confirmed that his experience with Dell is that they have a great proposition to help get ready and build the use cases for 5G. The combination of infrastructure and virtualisation will mean that for companies like Viavi their technicians will go from carrying around physical solutions to configuring functionality from virtualised platforms.

There is a lot of work in realising the potential, all of the industries are working hard on realizing that potentials, what applications, standards rolling out, interruptible equipment, providing the test and measurements that can meet a certain standard that will meet certain benchmarks. Dell is a great partner. Concept of virtualisation like Viavi solution has gone from being technician carry solutions to virtualised Platforms.  Dell has been a good Platform partner to deliver the quality that is needed.