The Telecom Server Landscape is Changing


The Telecom Server Landscape is Changing

By Jeff Hudgins, VP of Engineering, NEI, Inc.  |  April 29, 2013

It was not that long ago that the telecom server market was dominated by the likes of Sun and custom proprietary server platforms. Today we see new players like Dell (News - Alert) and RadiSys entering this space. But what's driving these companies to enter such a mature market?

Let's start with a look at the changes in the market. According to the International Telecommunications Union, there are more than 200,000 text messages sent every second worldwide. The Apple (News - Alert) iPad's LTE and HD video support make a powerful combination and also drives up the demand for data-rich HD movies from service providers. Some full-length HD movie files can measure up to 4GB. This constant demand by consumers for more data and an unwillingness to pay for it presents some big challenges in the telco industry.

The top three challenges are, first, a flexible design.Future solutions need to be flexible and scalable to ensure telecom OEMs can react to market changes and new opportunities. The second challenge is a need for faster rollouts.The pressure to roll out new technologies and service offerings is massive. A new technology rollout needs to take months, not years, as the return on investment needs to occur within a much quicker timeframe. Third challenge is lower prices.New services and features are launching at faster and faster rates. So the costs of developing and deploying a solution need to be economical to capitalize on the opportunity with minimal investment.

In short, this means a dramatic shift into the way standard X-86 based platforms are designed to meet the fast pace of the industry. But the telecom regulatory environment still remains firm and the need for certified platforms that comply with strict industry standards such as NEBS is often required by telecommunications customers. 

The RadiSys (News - Alert) RMS-220 Network Appliance is a fresh approach. The NEBS-compliant platform offers field-upgradeable front-facing IO options, creating a more flexible design. Additionally, the new line of 12th generation Dell rack mount and blade servers allow customers to leverage a broad line up of NEBS-compliant servers. Dell is greatly expanding its presence in the telecommunications market with highly competitive and flexible offerings. Telecom OEMs can now create a solution that runs on a standard Dell Server (R-620) or a NEBS-compliant version (R-620T). Bringing this into the bigger picture,  the solution can be managed more efficiently for faster rollouts at a lower price point by leveraging the robustness and volume of the underlying standard IT server design.

So what's the final score? Having IT server giants like Dell enter this space greatly reduces the costs associated with delivering a telecom platform solution. Some concerns still remain, however; for example, the standard IT server is still very long and measures more than 20 inches in length. They also tend to have a shorter life cycle than traditional telecom platforms. While these issues are not trivial, they need to be overcome to meet the growing needs of the market in 2013 and beyond.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi