Huawei All Cloud Strategy in Full Drive

History has proven repeatedly that those who do not embrace change are doomed to be left behind. Digitalization is a must for all carriers. Huawei launched its All Cloud strategy augmented by the Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social (ROADS) experience model to achieve the ultimate user experience in a fully connected world and help telecom carriers achieve success in the transformation process.

At the Network Evolution Summit held during Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017, Mr. Yue Kun, president of the Carrier Marketing Department, shared Huawei's anticipations in how networks will evolve and its vision for the future. He pointed out in his keynote speech that the next ten years would be the era of all cloud. He expanded on how Huawei intends to increase the drive behind its All Cloud strategy with release of a series of solutions powered by pooled hardware resource, distributed software architectures, and automated operation while continuing to dedicate itself to building an open, cooperative, and win-win ecosystem.

All Cloud: The Key to Digitalization for Carriers

Statistics show that 88% of the Fortune 500 companies have fallen off the list since 1995. Since 2000, about 50% of companies making the list have dropped off, often because they failed to implement a digital transformation or execute one at the proper velocity. Those that fail to plan and implement a legitimate digital transformation plan to fail. An increasing number of enterprises recognize the imperativeness of digital transformation and focus on addressing how to go about their specific adoption.

Huawei believes that the move to the cloud for all aspects of carrier operations is critical to achieving a viable, long-term digital transformation. For carries, cloud adoptions not only entail provisioning of cloud services for external customers, the adoptions also extend to network construction, service operations, service provisioning, and every other part of the telecom apparatus. This level of adoption is what Huawei is calling the All Cloud.

"The benefits brought by All Cloud are evident," continued Mr. Yue. He went on to explain that first, All Cloud facilitates service expansion. Compared with the simple voice- and data-based telecommunication services in the past, increasingly more service opportunities will emerge in the future. Video, cloud-based services, Business to Business (B2B), and Internet of Things (IoT) applications will become some of the top service streams for carriers in the future. To support these services, telecom networks must meet a diverse set of requirements, such as ultra-low latency, high bandwidth, high reliability, a support for a huge number of concurrent connections, seamless connect (SC), high security, quick service provisioning, and easy online customization. Cloudification enables carriers to develop these new services more effectively.

Second, All Cloud improves operation efficiency. As different industries become further integrated, competitive pressure on carriers from other industries continues to grow. Telecom carriers lag far behind Internet companies in terms of operation efficiency. In one example, a popular Internet company requires only two technicians to manage its data center that houses 500,000 servers. However, for telecom carriers, each operation engineer can manage only about 100 devices. Internet companies are over 100 times more efficient when it comes to operation. In the execution of their respective digital transformations, carriers must find ways to achieve much improved levels of efficiency to compete with Internet companies. The conversion to the cloud makes network resource scheduling, collaboration, and management more efficient, which in turn will help level the playing field for carriers.

Third, All Cloud speeds service response. Cloud-related technologies, such as containers, microservices, and DevOps, are maturing. Carriers can respond to the market more rapidly and roll out innovative services more quickly to meet requirements for future digital service users, offering users a satisfactory experience that is Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social.

Revamping Telecom Networks with Cloud Enablement

Huawei officially released the All Cloud strategy at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2016. The strategy aims to create systematic strengths in pooled hardware resources, fully distributed software architecture, and fully-automated operations. According to the strategy, the entire network will shift to data center-centric architecture and all network functions, services, and applications will run in a cloud data center (DC).

Huawei's All Cloud strategy fully reconstructs telecom networks based on the following concepts:

  • Pooled hardware resources: Enables maximized sharing of all resources, including computing, storage, wide area network (WAN), and air interfaces for greatly improved utilization of investment.
  • Distributed software architecture: Distributes all computing resources and provides microservice-oriented software services, deploying all components on demand and flexibly combining software of different functions like building blocks. Based on microservices, distributed software systems, such as stateless design, will bring high service scalability, quality, and agility to networks.
  • Fully-automated operations: Enables operation automation, implementing service auto-running, self-healing, and self-optimization based on big data predictions and proactive maintenance that adopts machine learning techniques.

Huawei Going Full Throttle with All Cloud Strategy

Mr. Yue continued, "All IP dominated the industry for the last ten years. However, we believe that the next decade will be the All Cloud era." Huawei is going into full gear with its All Cloud strategy, successively releasing a series of solutions for commercial use.

Huawei is a leader in cloud adoptions for core networks. Huawei has deployed more than 200 cloudification commercial networks across the world, and one solution won the Best Technology Enabling Award at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 held in Barcelona.

Huawei considers the current level of network functions virtualization (NFV) is insufficient even though the concept has turned mainstream. The industry needs to further step into network functions cloudification (NFC). NFC adopts a cloud native software architecture and gradually introduces innovative technologies, such as IT microservices and container technologies to better satisfy customer demands and increase business value, providing a more agile software architecture. With this architecture, Huawei helped a European customer build an NB-IoT network within two months even though the 3GPP NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) standard was changed 40 times in 2016. (Generally, it takes a year to develop and deploy an NB-IoT network.)

At the Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2016 in November, Huawei launched CloudRAN, a wireless cloud architecture, and CloudAIR, an air-interface cloudification solution. For wireless networks, the most important resources are baseband access and air-interface resources, which were only available for spectrum refarming and inter-RAT static sharing of fixed radio access technology (RAT) configurations. The CloudAIR solution uses advanced scheduling to allow different RATs to share the same spectrum within a carrier band dynamically and flexibly regardless of the combination of the frequency band, antenna, and bandwidth as well as the frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD) limitations. The cloudification technology for wireless access networks has been put into trial commercial use. One of Huawei's customers in the Asia Pacific has GSM 4.6 MHz and UMTS 4.2 MHz spectrum resources on a 900 MHz frequency band. In this case, it is impossible to deploy a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network for the carrier. However, with the CloudAIR solution, Huawei successfully helped the customer realize GSM, UMTS, and LTE (GUL) spectrum sharing on the 900 MHz frequency band, delivering a 65% GUL capacity increase and saving 100 million USD in spectrum costs.

At MWC 2017, Huawei released eight commercial end-to-end solutions targeted at fixed networks to shorten the path to cloudification networks. These solutions are CloudFAN for fixed access, CloudCampus for parks, CloudEPN for enterprise interconnection, CloudOptiX for fiber optic transmission network, CloudMetro for metropolitan area networks (MANs), CloudBackbone for backbone networks, CloudFabric for data centers, and EC-IoT for edge computing, which have been preliminarily deployed on multiple networks across the world. The CloudMetro Solution helps China Mobile build the world's first cloudification broadband remote access server (BRAS) network which separates the forwarding plane from the control plane. The cloudification BRAS architecture supports a maximum of 10 million user capacity and new services can be independently developed and upgraded, reducing time to market (TTM) from years to months and offering support for single point of access and the ability to apply upgrades across the entire network, reducing workloads by 90%.

While All Cloud networks bring many benefits, they also pose new security risks. Huawei has an in-depth understanding of the security risks surrounding cloudification networks and has invested a significant amount of manpower and material resources into building impregnable cloudification network. With its sizable R&D investments and extensive expertise in cyber security gained over the past decades, Huawei has come up with the following assumptions on cloudification network security:

  • Fully vetting of ecosystem-provided components is a necessity. Even components from endorsed vendors in the open source community and third parties cannot be considered secure without going through stringent in-house testing. The security of the entire system is only as strong as the weakest link, so everything must be brought up to top security assurances during systems integration.
  • Virtual networks are even more susceptible to attack. Cloudification networks use pooled resources and there is no physical boundary between the virtual networks. When network attacks occur, the security isolation of virtual networks will fail.
  • Single-point architecture is unreliable. When centralized management mechanisms, such as software-defined networking (SDN), are used, how to ensure security on the entire network should be considered once a single point fails, being hijacked, or controlled maliciously.

Based on the preceding assumptions, Huawei builds three layers of defense into its systems to include intrusion prevention, elimination, and tolerance for cloudification networks.

Wide-Open Cooperation Builds Mutually Beneficial Ecosystem

Speaking to the level of openness Huawei maintains in its cooperation with the ecosystem, Mr. Yue commented: "As for All Cloud, Huawei aims to be a technology enabler and focuses on building healthy ecosystems together with its partners. Huawei actively contributes to the development of the industry and works intently with industry leaders to build up differentiated advantages. Huawei makes full use of these advantages to provide customized solutions. Huawei works with industry partners to ensure that a benevolent market space is maintained and promote healthy development of the entire ecosystem."

In the developer ecology, Huawei released its Developer Enablement Plan in 2015 and announced that it would invest one billion USD in the Developer Enabling Service over five years, hoping to expand the service to a scale of one million developers by 2020.

Huawei has established 13 OpenLabs in the world as of last year, and will set up six new ones this year in areas where there are many ecosystem partners and developers. Huawei takes this approach to promote product innovations involving multiple vendor contributions. Developers and partners are provided a shared space in which to carry out product integration and verification with Huawei.

Huawei opens itself up and shares its capabilities to build new ecosystem alliances, such as CarbonData and OpenSDS. Huawei has integrated OPEN-O and ECOMP into a new ONAP community with carriers and open source partners in the past year to reduce disorder in fractioning in the open source ecosystem. To ensure the health of ecosystems, Huawei launched a customer value proposition (CVP) certification plan at Open NFV, realizing interconnection among many manufacturers, reducing carriers' interconnection costs, and lowering the interconnection risk so that the whole industry can continue to develop in a healthy manner.

As an important member of multiple standards organizations and open source communities, Huawei plays an active role in constructing a healthy industry ecosystem and has made the following top-level contributions:

  • Huawei serves as a co-chairman of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and has had 240 proposals accepted, the most of any member.
  • As a founding and platinum VIP member of the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), Huawei occupies key seats such as secretary general of the Board of Directors (BOD) and has initiated 12 community projects, the most of any member.
  • Huawei is not only a platinum VIP member but also a platinum director of the OpenStack open source community. Huawei has had a great impact on the community with regards to service reliability, security, and system maintainability. That is why Huawei is widely recognized by the community, despite joining the community later than most members.
  • After the Open Orchestrator and Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) were combined, Huawei maintained its platinum seat in the new formed Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) community. Huawei will contribute more manpower and open source code to establish unified standards benefiting improved scheduling and management of all-cloud systems.

At the end of his speech, Mr. Yue Kun indicated that hard work ahead of the all cloud efforts with a metaphor: "Gold stands out from the dregs have it has been panned out of numerous careful washings. All Cloud is not an overnight accomplishment and cannot be completed by one company. It requires a commitment by the whole industry to embrace all cloud with the ultimate intent on helping carriers step into digitization and generate new market growth points."

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