Sharing Cloud-Based Networks for High-Quality Digital Transformation

Sharing Cloud-Based Networks for High-Quality Digital Transformation

By Guanglu Shao, Board Member, China Telecommunications Corporation

We are now stepping into a new digital world where next-generation information technologies are becoming the new standard. This digital society is driven by cloud, network, and data services that are open, interconnected, and shared, facilitating cost-effective and high-quality infrastructure construction.

The pandemic will have long-lasting effects on China's economy, particularly on the retail, transportation, and commercial real estate sectors. We have seen explosive growth in online shopping, education, work, and video conferencing. It’s evident that industries spearheading digitalization and cloudification are growing, whereas traditional industries have been left in the shadows.

Currently, mobile phones and home bandwidth can reach peak speeds of 1 Gbps, while cloud connections can reach 100 Gbps. The Internet of Everything has already achieved low latency and high bandwidth. These capabilities are based on a series of network infrastructures including 4G/mobile networks, intelligent, big data, cloud computing, IoT, and data transmission.

The digital economy has shown similar signs of growth in other countries – a trend that will see traditional infrastructures such as roads and railways give way to IoE, intelligent, big data, and cloud computing. Society needs digital transformation more than ever.

Regardless of the differences between industries, enterprises can only achieve transformation with the support of networking, cloudification, digitalization, intelligence, and e-commerce-style service subscriptions. Telecom operators have inherent advantages in networking and digitalization. Therefore, they should focus on cloudification, intelligence, and e-commerce-style service subscription. The following looks at how China Telecom is exploring cloudification and intelligence.

Cloudification: the sooner, the better

This year, China Telecom implemented the cloud transformation project, covering IT, CT, business, and office systems. According to China Telecom's plan, new IT systems must be completely cloudified, and existing IT systems must be cloudified within three years. During this process, China Telecom will set up four platforms to enable the migration of the IT systems to the eCloud. The self-service application and minute-level provisioning capabilities of PaaS/IaaS integrated services simplifies the usage of PaaS components on the cloud. The DevOps environment, multi-dimensional monitoring, and intelligent O&M capabilities are provided to implement unified capability exposure, management, and operation of network-wide DICT capabilities, enabling the cloudification of IT systems for China Telecom's 31 provincial branches. In the pilot project, the billing time of telecom services is shortened from two days to eight hours and the IT capacity expansion period from months to minutes. In addition, the BSS and OSS share hardware, thereby reducing investment by 30%.

A number of industries have recognized that cloudification will be implemented sooner or later, and sooner is better than later.

Multiple networks and clouds and the CN2 network

Cloud-network synergy is the convergence of multiple clouds and networks, not only those of operators. Therefore, China Telecom proposes that network operators and cloud service providers enhance openness and accelerate digital transformation of industries by working together and sharing resources to achieve cost-effective and high-quality construction and operation.

China Telecom has upgraded and reconstructed its CN2 network based on the idea of sharing multiple clouds and networks, to implement the following features: 1. Multi-network access is provided for users through either wireless, private line, or SD-WAN. 2. Multi-cloud access services are provided, allowing users to access both eCloud and third-party clouds. China Telecom will deploy and interconnect third-party public clouds in advance. 3. 100 Gbps interconnection is supported between multiple clouds, and 400GE is supported between availability zones. 4. APIs are open and can be mutually invoked between clouds and networks. 5. In terms of technology, SRv6 and EVPN technologies are used E2E to implement one-hop cloud access.

Strengthening hotspot areas with cloud, network, and edge

Currently, China Telecom has more than 600 IDC equipment rooms, and has strengthened its development in areas such as Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Yangtze River Delta, the Greater Bay Area, Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Chongqing, forming cloud-network-edge synergy. China Telecom believes that operators need to transform and provide public cloud, industry cloud, and hybrid cloud services in addition to conventional services. China Telecom is currently building three capabilities for its eCloud. First, the primary business of China Telecom will be cloud services instead of traditional wired and wireless network services. Second, China Telecom will open up its cloud and network capabilities, strengthen cooperation with software suppliers, hardware suppliers, integrators, and third-party cloud service providers, and provide one-stop integration services for customers. Third, we will attract more cloud applications and build a cloud ecosystem for eCloud.

Cloud-network-app aggregation platform

Most users now migrate services to the cloud, and in response to this China Telecom and its partners have developed a multi-cloud aggregation platform together to help users purchase clouds, networks, applications in one place and be billed only once. This platform is interconnected with mainstream public clouds. APIs of cloud service providers and network service providers can be invoked and integrated to provide services for customers. Moreover, API-level interconnection with the public cloud is implemented. Open, interconnected, and shared cloud, network, and data services are beneficial to constructing new, cost-effective, and superior infrastructure to realize the digital transformation of society. A new round of technological evolution and industrial revolution is gathering momentum. To keep up with this trend, the key is to develop the digital economy and accelerate the commercial application of next-generation information technology. China's economy has shifted from high-speed growth to high-quality development. Digital transformation will improve efficiency and provide an effective way to achieve high-quality economic development. Cloud, network, and data services that are open, interconnected, and shared are critical to promoting the construction of this new high-quality infrastructure.

In view of this, China Telecom has proposed four initiatives. First, the number of national Internet backbone direct connection points should be increased from 13 to 31 provincial capitals. This will reduce new infrastructure costs and optimize user experience, turning each provincial capital into a smart connection point. Second, IDCs can be connected from any operator's network to reduce traffic diversion. Third, the wireless edge cloud and UPF of the three major operators should be open to each other. Fourth, the public cloud can be open and interconnected. The common goal is to make the new infrastructure affordable and easy to use.