Intelligent Cloud-Network: Helping China Unicom Guangdong Build a Digital Development Foundation for Greater Bay Area

Intelligent Cloud-Network: Helping China Unicom Guangdong Build a Digital Development Foundation for Greater Bay Area

5G and cloud are accelerating industry digitalization — digital innovation is finding its way into factories, clouds are changing from underlying services to leading services, and the value of connectivity in industry is rising with network approaches changing to cloud approaches. As a growing number of enterprises choose production system cloudification, the multi-cloud application becomes the new normal, cloud-network convergence becomes a necessity, and operator business models change from SIM cards and private lines to cloud-networks and services.

To help operators cope with new challenges in cloud-network convergence, and meet enterprise user requirements for cloud-network services, such as online services, quick provisioning, flexible resource adjustment, one-stop cloud-network subscription, public cloud + private cloud, and localized services, Huawei has launched its intelligent cloud-network solution. China Unicom Guangdong, as a leader in digital infrastructure construction in Guangdong province, proposed the cloud-network development roadmap featuring "ubiquitous connections, enhancing network advantages; multi-cloud ecosystem, deepening convergence; and cloud-network synergy, empowering services".

Providing Powerful Cloud-Network Service Capabilities Based on the Intelligent Cloud-Network Solution

As early as 2019, China Unicom Guangdong and Huawei jointly built the world's first SRv6 cloud backbone, even putting it into commercial use. This network provided multi-cloud pre-connection capability in Guangdong province, and the number of public cloud connections has steadily increased. On the top of this, the new industry cloud and edge MEC are aggregated to the cloud backbone, implementing fast cloud-edge and edge-edge synergy.

Furthermore, differentiated attributes of various industries are proactively adapted based on the cloud backbone, providing on-demand 1+1 industry private networks for industry customers. For example, Huawei provides a site-to-cloud private network service for the healthcare industry leveraging an "IP RAN+cloud backbone". This service features dual-plane protection, on-demand bandwidth adjustment, and optional latency to well satisfy cloudification requirements. By the end of 2020, approximately 300 medical institutions across Zhuhai have accessed the cloud through this service.

To build a deterministic cloud-network service experience, the two parties have conducted in-depth cooperation and research in network slicing technology. In H1 2021, China Unicom Guangdong joined hands with Huawei to carry out the 5G hard slice-based private network reconstruction project at the headquarters of Gree Electric Appliances in Zhuhai, and completed and tested the first E2E hard slice-based private network covering the 5G base station, IP bearer network, and core network in the smart manufacturing field in China. In addition, they selected a new metro network as a benchmark for slice deployment and verification, striving to build premium site-to-cloud private networks for customers in industries such as healthcare and education.

The close cloud-network cooperation of China Unicom Guangdong and Huawei provides several advantages:

One-hop cloud access and one network off the cloud: NCE + SRv6 is used to break the E2E process barriers of the network, implementing online provisioning and agile delivery of cloud-network services, and shortening the provisioning period of cloud private lines from weeks to days.

One-click cloud scheduling: The cloud-network integrated operation service architecture can be reconstructed in only one click. The OSS-BSS domain is integrated in line with e-commerce-like service experience, and network capabilities are exposed for cloud-network synergy, enabling one-stop subscription of cloud-network services.

Network visualization and path selection: Multi-factor path computation of NCE and SRv6 programmability are used to provide flexible path optimization, latency visualization and on-demand path selection.

In-band packet monitoring: Cloud-network service paths are restored from the perspective of customers to implement tenant-level SLA indicator visualization, traceability, and scalability. The multi-dimensional SLA analysis capabilities are introduced to identify network bottlenecks and support decision-making regarding service scaling.

Security service: Multi-cloud security is orchestrated across domains, implementing real-time service synchronization and remote disaster recovery. The local private cloud ensures customer data security and controllability. In addition, atomic security capabilities and orchestration prevent threats.

E-commerce-like service: The customer's NMS and self-service App "Zhiwangtong" are upgraded, and a unified self-service portal is provided based on the exposed cloud-network capabilities to enhance the e-commerce-like experience. In this way, in the pre-sales phase, all cloud-network services can be subscribed to, and resources are visible and can be selected on demand. In the in-sales phase, services can be provisioned upon hardware installation, network access means cloud access, and the delivery process is visible. In the after-sales phase, tenant quality is visible, and self-service fault diagnosis is supported.

Building an Industry-Leading Computing Power-Network Integrated Architecture Based on the Intelligent Cloud-Network Solution

With the emergence of AI technologies, cloud computing has started to evolve from centralized deployment to distributed deployment, and the traffic model has started to evolve from "cloud-network-device" to "cloud-network-edge-device". China Unicom is catching up with the development trend of cloud-network services after determining an evolution target featuring computing power-network integration. Huawei's intelligent cloud-network solution uses innovative IPv6+ as its foundation to boost computing power-network integration.

Readily available computing power: Centered on computing power services, SRv6 programmability is fully utilized to combine network segment routes (network SIDs) and service applications (application SIDs) to integrate orchestration into networks, building SRv6 service chains. In this way, customers only need to be aware of services and do not need to care about network scheduling. Network adjustment is now cloud based.

Lossless computing power transport: The traditional TCP/IP protocol deals with packet loss by retransmitting the packets. Unfortunately, this means that packet loss severely affects the transport efficiency of computing power. For computing power-network integration, Huawei uses intelligent slicing to hard isolate the computing power required by different SLAs, achieving high reliability and zero packet loss similar to that provided by an SDH network, and ultimately achieving lossless and efficient computing power transport.

Balanced computing power scheduling: Huawei's unique intelligent cloud-map algorithm not only considers network factors — such as bandwidth, latency, and reliability — but also cloud factors — such as computing power, storage, and cost. It is a unified source for path computation. This algorithm balances computing power distribution via different physical units, maximizing compute resource utilization and reducing the required investment.

Security protection: As network borders are continuously extended and big data is continuously centralized, service threats are increasing. The "Qiankun + Tianguan" solution detects the security posture of an entire network in real time, improving the threat location precision to 96%. Moreover, the solution predicts unknown security threats through intelligent analysis, safeguarding computing power, and making computing power utilization easier than ever for enterprises.

Together, these capabilities have allowed Huawei to help China Unicom Guangdong implement the industry's first SRv6 security service chain. In addition, China Unicom released the result of much of their innovation, CUBE-Net3.0, in the Greater Bay Area on September 14, 2021. CUBE-Net3.0 provides a computing power-network integrated service architecture that features "1+N+X". China Unicom & Huawei Computing Power-Network Joint Innovation Lab Guangdong Demo Base" is now officially listed as an entity.

Looking into the future, Huawei and China Unicom Guangdong will continue to cooperate and innovate in terms of the target architecture, core capabilities, achievement promotion, and commercial application of computing power-network integration. Built upon the innovation demo base of the CUBE-Net 3.0 computing power-network in the Greater Bay Area, they will jointly promote the cloud-network industry to move to computing power-network integration, and build a solid foundation for digital development in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.