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Dish to use AWS edge tools for 5G roll out, question marks for VMware

Dish to use AWS edge tools for 5G roll out, question marks for VMware

5G network pioneer Dish has announced it is to construct its network on Amazon Web Services at the core and out to the edge. Under the tie-up, Dish will use Outposts at 5G base stations, and also Local Zones.

AWS’ Local Zones are a form of edge data centers located in cities where there is demand for high-performance, low latency compute such as Los Angeles. (AWS compute located in or near carrier base stations is referred to as AWS Wavelength). Outposts is a rack of servers and storage designed for use on premise, and AWS sees Dish using those at 5G base stations.

Dish expects its network to go live in Las Vegas at the end of 2021. It’s an event that is hugely anticipated in the mobile industry especially as it has been a long time coming. Dish, which originally offered satellite TV service, has actually been accumulating spectrum for over a decade. The rollout of cellular service has not been entirely smooth, with expectations recently lowered as to what will be delivered at launch.

The tie-up with AWS also might seem to jar a little with Dish’s close relationship with VMware. The 5G network is a poster child for VMware’s Telco cloud stack, and Dish has invested heavily in Tanzu, VMware’s cloud-native development and container management offering. When Dish is up and running, it will have the first fully end-to-end containerized network, and Dish says the software defined nature will enable it to dynamically shift and scale workloads as demand fluctuates.

How are AWS Outposts going to fit in here? Outposts are already quite integrated into VMware: the ability to manage the on-premise rack using VMware’s control plane was there at the product launch in 2018. It’s possible of course to use AWS’s orchestration tools as well, but AWS probably had to acknowledge the strength of VMware’s position in the corporate data center. But is the overhead not to mention the expense really necessary? Dish seems to be creating a Rolls Royce infrastructure with best-of-breed vendors. It will be interesting to say the least to see how it fares when it all goes live.

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