Simplifying and Accelerating Open RAN

  • General

This blog is co-authored by Charlie Martin, Senior Consultant, Open RAN Product Management and Saad Sheikh, Principal Architect, Telecom Strategy, Architect and Design.

Dell Technologies recently announced it is delivering a fully validated solution for Mavenir Open vRAN and VMware Telco Cloud Platform to accelerate the deployment of new open radio access network (RAN) architectures and usher in a new era of 5G growth.

To accommodate the enormous amount of data, and support promising new 5G services, the RAN is undergoing a massive transformation from today’s proprietary, closed RAN systems to an open, standards-based architecture. While the transformation can take different forms, the two common steps in the transformation include:

Virtualizing the RAN architecture, which includes virtualizing the distributed unit (DU) and centralized unit (CU) functions of the broadband base unit (BBU).
Standardizing the interfaces between the radio unit RU, DU and CU. Open RAN leverages standard-based interfaces as defined by the O-RAN Alliance and 3GPP.

Virtualizing the RAN architecture allows the decoupling of hardware from software, giving CSPs the flexibility to build RANs using various deployment models based on the performance and total cost of ownership (TCO). This flexibility allows the placement of DU and CU computing resources wherever needed to meet the service requirements of CSP customers. Some potential scenarios include:

Locating both the DU and CU at the cell site in an entirely distributed model.
Locating the DU in a fully distributed model at the cell site and centralizing the CU-CP (control plane) and CU-UP (user plane) at the data center.
Locating the DU in a centralized fashion at the CRAN hub site with the CU even more fully centralized at a data center.
Locating the DU, CU-CP and CU-UP software in a fully centralized fashion at a data center.
Locating the DU and CU software in a fully centralized fashion at multiple data centers supporting a single cloud.

Potential deployment scenarios

Open RAN unleashes the power of innovation, flexibility, efficiency and service differentiation while giving CSPs complete control of their RAN by eliminating vendor lock-in. The Open RAN architecture, and Dell Technologies validated solution, allows CSPs to transform their current network to an open, standards-based architecture. In addition, Open RAN and the improved radio spectrum efficiency enables CSPs to introduce new use cases and capabilities that are difficult to realize today based on current RAN architectures, including:

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) based use cases for site optimization and capacity planning.
New 5G business models, such as network slicing to deploy virtualized RAN networks, providing specific Quality of Service (QoS) needs for new innovative services.
Open infrastructures that optimize deployments in the RAN to optimize edge/MEC solutions.
Data driven, automatic, secure optimization of the RAN.

However, introducing Open RAN raises many challenges, including integrating multivendor solutions and efficiently managing RAN infrastructure across geographically dispersed locations. New capabilities, such as the Dell Technologies Bare Metal Orchestrator, help automate RAN compute resources’ discovery, deployment and management across locations. To alleviate the multivendor integration challenge, Dell Technologies is building an ecosystem of Open RAN partners to create and validate solutions to streamline and simplify the upfront requirements for CSPs deploying Open RAN.

The Dell Technologies validated solution for Mavenir open vRAN and VMware Telco Cloud Platform is an end-to-end Open RAN solution bundled with systems integration and services capability. The solution simplifies and accelerates the transformation to Open RAN with a thoroughly Dell-tested solution. It includes a reference architecture and technical content that CSPs can leverage to jump start their transition to Open RAN. It provides a foundation to CSPs for introducing Open RAN and offers many benefits when building a new set of next generation services required for 5G networks monetization, including:

A 5G Open RAN solution that provides technology and architectural flexibility to maximize network performance.
A 5G RAN architecture that promises simplification of deployment, automation of manual tasks, network resiliency and ultimately ease of transition to a cloud-based architecture.
A RAN platform that will enable increased acceleration of new services to market and that can cost-effectively scale to meet the demand for those services.
Lower total cost of ownership through automation and CapEx and OpEx reductions realized through centralization of key RAN components.

The solution fully complies with industry standards and includes these solution components:

Dell EMC XR11, XR12, and R750 PowerEdge servers.
Mavenir cloud-native 5G CU-CP, CU-UP, DU and Mavenir Telco Cloud Integration Layer (MTCIL), Mavenir Centralized Management Service (mCMS) which is a standardized EMS, Smart Deployment as a Service (SDaaS) and analytics.
VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN and Telco Cloud Automation software which includes the orchestrator and automation layers.

Dell Technologies offers open solutions that accelerate the CSP transformations of tomorrow. With our commitment to Open RAN, Dell is leading a cross-industry initiative to bring technology together from the world’s leading Open RAN vendors and help solve the most critical challenges CSPs face today. Our deep and long-standing relationships with Mavenir and VMware allow us to develop, test and validate solutions that embrace open standards, multivendor ecosystems and the latest market innovations.

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