BT in trial with Dell EMC to use IT and data centre kit in telecom networks

BT in trial with Dell EMC to use IT and data centre kit in telecom networks

BT says it is investigating the promised benefits of virtualisation by replacing traditional network equipment with off-the-shelf IT and data centre gear.

This is seen by many as the next step in reducing the cost of networks – as IT equipment used in software defined networks (SDN) can be much cheaper than purpose-built telecoms kit – and improving flexibility.

Neil McRae, chief architect for BT, said: “This proof-of-concept trial with Dell EMC will enable us to evaluate the performance of disaggregated switches against traditional integrated network switches, and make informed decisions about the role this kind of solution will play in the dynamic network services of the future.”

The trial is being conducted at BT Labs, where researchers will explore how disaggregated switching can create flexible networks which are more responsive to customer needs by using standard open network switches commonly found in data centres, coupled with specialist switching software.

“Agility and programmability, maximising the benefits of SDN, are therefore key to our future network evolution,” said McRae.

The idea is to make the entire system inherently programmable and allow the switches to be operated in tandem to provide new network services or make configuration changes rapidly.

BT said it will work with Dell EMC to look at a number of potential use cases as part of the trial as the company evolves its network strategy to maximise the benefits of SDN, NFV (network functions virtualisation) and programmable silicon.

These include the instant activation of Ethernet circuits from a third party – such as an enterprise – and the ability of the system to deliver real-time network operational data, said BT.

Dell EMC’s Tom Burns, senior vice president and general manager for networking, enterprise infrastructure and service provider solutions, said: “The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology.”

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