What Do Dell’s New Servers Mean for Telecommunications Customers?

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I’m here at Mobile World Congress today, and I’m excited to share that today’s enterprise announcement from Dell and the launch of the new PowerEdge 12th Generation servers comes with exciting news for the telecommunications industry. One of the Dell OEM capabilities that will be available with the new servers is Dell’s first-time offering of dell-designed, carrier-grade, NEBS-compliant servers. What does that mean exactly?

In short, this means that Dell’s new servers with the NEBS-compliant offering will meet strict industry standards required by telecommunications customers and will allow Dell to greatly expand its presence in the telecommunications market with highly competitive offerings.  Bringing this into the bigger picture, one of the reasons I’m so proud to work at Dell, yet something I don’t think a lot of people are aware of, is because of what we’ve been able to accomplish as pioneers in purpose-built hardware and innovators in cloud. Three out of the top five search engines, for example, and dozens of the largest public clouds have chosen Dell for purpose-built servers.  With this expertise as a base, extending our reach into the telecommunications space is a natural extension for us and will serve as a benefit to our customers.

To help explain today’s announcement even further, I’ve asked two of our key Dell OEM engineers, Ryan Putman and Zachary Cravens, to answer a few questions about NEBS compliance, how it relates to Dell’s strategy in the telecommunications space and why telecommunications customers should care about this new offering.

Laurie: Dell’s PowerEdge 12th Generation servers will come with a NEBS-compliant offering. What does that mean exactly?

Ryan & Zac: NEBS stands for Network Equipment Building Systems and is a set of U.S. industry standards published by telecommunications leader Telcordia and based on certain FCC guidelines. The best way to explain the purpose of NEBS compliance and NEBS testing is to consider things like earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. In order for wireless devices to work in these situations, the back-end technology and servers that support these devices need to stay up and running. NEBS testing and certification is the most common set of guidelines in the U.S. applied to technology to ensure it’s as equipped as possible to keep working under these conditions.

To achieve NEBS-compliance, our new carrier-grade 12th Generation Server platforms needed to comply with strict guidelines relating to physical protection and electromagnetic compatibility and safety; guidelines that were created specifically for the telecommunications market.

Laurie: How do NEBS-compliant and carrier-grade servers benefit customers and what kinds of customers do they benefit?

Ryan & Zac: Carrier-grade server offerings are required as the ticket to entry into the telecommunications market, and OEMs (Dell) must have a test report showing compliance with NEBS guidelines in order to sell in that market. These feature sets may also be attractive to other rugged customers. Japan, for example, is interested in seismic rated equipment.  Dell also often gets requests for equipment that exceeds the standard 35°C environment, so many customers, even outside the telecommunications market, are interested in the extended temperatures that NEBS provides.

Laurie:  What does this mean for customers in the telecommunications space? How is this solution different from what customers have seen so far in the industry?

Ryan & Zac: Unlike our leading competitors, our NEBS offerings will be compatible with our general purpose 12th Generation servers. This allows us to provide rapid scalability and expandability and eliminates the need for costly customized solutions, the only option offered by other vendors. This streamlined and affordable approach, plus the level of rapid support Dell provides, is what will make our solution stand out. The unique-to-Dell support Dell provides OEM customers and their end-users includes 24/7 assistance, design engineering, in-factory configuration, global fulfillment and hardware support in more than 100 countries.

Laurie:  What does this mean for Dell as it relates to offerings in the telecommunications space?

Ryan & Zac: The telecommunications market is growing, and we see this as a new opportunity for Dell.  By having NEBS-certified equipment, which carrier’s require, it will allow us to enter new markets that we haven’t had access to before and provide truly end-to-end offerings for our telecommunications customers. NEBS-certified servers allow us to be the one-stop-shop, streamlined answer telecommunications customers are looking for when it comes to their IT infrastructure. 

Laurie:  What kind of testing did Dell have to do to ensure the new servers are NEBS-compliant?

Ryan & Zac: Dell partnered with a leading carrier to use their certified testing facility. Activities included seismic testing to ensure the servers would survive a category four earthquake and flame testing to ensure that, during an exothermic event, our equipment would not spread fire to other equipment in the datacenter. The telecommunications market also desires DC Power, so we’ve developed 48V DC power supplies and provided dust filters to comply with the filtering requirements for fan inlets. Additionally, servers went through thermal testing and validation to ensure equipment withstands thermal excursions up to 55°C for short periods of time. The level of testing that took place represents a significant investment from Dell, both in man hours, test fees and material costs. This is symbolic of our commitment to provide the best solutions possible to our telecommunications customers.

Laurie:  Why is NEBS-compliant important to telecommunications customers?

Ryan & Zac: Outside of the fact that NEBS-compliant servers are required by telecommunications customers, telecommunications is considered a critical piece of the national infrastructure.  In the event of a disaster, natural or otherwise, it’s extremely important for that infrastructure to stay operational.  After all is said and done, working phones are crucial in a post-disaster environment; for everyone from government officials to emergency response teams and family members checking in on one another. The phones must work.

As the Global Practice Lead and General Manager for Dell’s new Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment segment, I’m especially excited about this piece of the PowerEdge 12th Generation announcement and what it means long-term for both Dell and our telecommunications customers. It goes beyond just new servers and it’s even about more than just NEBS compliant. For the first time, because of our ability to offer servers suitable for telecommunications customers, we can meet all of their IT infrastructure needs, leveraging our core strengths to do so better, faster and at a lower cost than our leading competitors.

For example, Utimaco, a German-based provider of lawful interception and data retention for network providers, is switching from a proprietary-based solution to Dell OEM’s standards-based solutions and has already seen improvements for its customers.  “As a supplier to telecom operators, we’re excited about Dell’s new NEBS level-3 certified servers and look forward to continuing our partnership in this space with Dell OEM Solutions,” said René Nitzinger, Product Manager, Utimaco.  “Our lawful interception management systems require carrier-grade hardware that is operational 24×7 with zero downtime, even in harsh environments.”

Comment here and let us know what you think about our new carrier-grade offering and follow the conversation on Twitter at #Dell4Telco.

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