A collaborative research project has been announced between Dell EMC and telco pioneer BT to find innovative ways of delivering telecom services.

Tom Burns, Dell EMC senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider Solutions, highlighted the need for new advancements in the telco space – ‘The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology.’

According to Burns, the key motives behind the collaboration with BT are to improve network agility, flexibility and programmability, and to provide a higher level of service for customers.

Proof-of-concept trials are expected to take place in the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk, and will specifically investigate how disaggregated switching can lead to flexible, more responsive networks. The researchers will assess opportunities for using open network switches combined with specialist software.

Neil McRae, chief architect at BT said of the trials, ‘This 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.’

Disaggregated switching, pioneered by hyperscale data centre operators, have multiple benefits over traditional network switches, such as improved flexibility which allows the switching’s functionality to be customised. 

The combined research between the two giants will look at multiple potential use cases to develop new network strategies and maximise the capabilities of software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV), as well as advancing the benefits of programmable silicon.

The initiative will also explore bandwidth calendaring by flexing bandwidth requirements according to customer needs and delivering telemetry data to third parties automatically.

The instant activation of Ethernet circuits from a third party will also be explored, including the ability to deliver real-time network operational data.

McRae added: ‘We’re determined to ensure that BT’s network continues to be world-class and able to deliver the services our customers need, when and how they need them. Agility and programmability, maximising the benefits of SDN are therefore key to our future network evolution.’