Huawei Unveils ICT Nation as Part of US Enterprise Push

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-05-08

Huawei Unveils ICT Nation as Part of US Enterprise Push

Huawei Technologies is looking to take advantage of the converging communications and information technologies to build a community around its wide range of products and to continue its push into the U.S. enterprise market.

At the Interop 2013 show in Las Vegas this week, Huawei officials launched ICT Nation, an initiative to build a community of tech vendors and channel partners that will help the company create broad strategies and solutions around the trends that are quickly transforming enterprise data centers, such as cloud computing, mobility, big data and converged infrastructures.

At the same time, Huawei unveiled a number of new offerings and efforts that touch on a range of areas, from software-defined networks (SDNs) and cloud data centers to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and broadband networks.

The massive Chinese tech vendor offers a broad portfolio of products and solutions, putting it in a strong position to help enterprises develop integrated data center strategies that enable them to take advantage of the ongoing changes, officials said.

"We're creating an instrument for the community to help with that transition," Jane Li, chief operating officer of Huawei Enterprise USA, told eWEEK.

The ICT (information and communications technology) is already recognized and well under way in other regions, and Huawei is playing a role in helping businesses, partners and other vendors address it, Li said. Company officials want to do the same in the United States, she said. Enterprises and other customers have any number of vendors who can sell them good data center gear, from servers to switches, but what they need is help adapting to such trends as ICT, BYOD and mobility, Li said.

"Right now there is no common place they can turn to," she said.

Many of the conversations Li has had at Interop with partners, developers and other vendors have been around Huawei's ICT Nation effort. The transformation is happening, and all those involved are trying to find a way to address it, she said, adding that a community like ICT Nation will give them that avenue. The hope is that in a year there will be solutions on the market that have come out of ICT Nation and that are helping customers in various verticals.

"ICT is big," she said. "We're just at the tip of the iceberg."

The company established the Huawei Enterprise USA unit in 2011 to help it make inroads into the enterprise technology market in the country. Huawei is a well-known vendor overseas, and sees the United States as a growth market for its broad range of products, from networking switches and routers to storage, smartphones and other mobile devices, and software.

Over the past year, much of the attention Huawei has received in the United States has been about its dispute with the government over the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. carrier networks. A congressional report last year indicated that lawmakers saw Huawei and fellow Chinese tech vendor ZTE as national security threats because of their close ties to the Chinese government.

Both companies disputed the findings, but U.S. officials still cautioned U.S. carriers about using the companies' equipment in their networks and reportedly in March made not using Huawei gear a precondition to approving the deal between Sprint and Softbank. The ongoing dispute led Eric Xu, Huawei executive vice president and one of Huawei's rotating CEOs, to say last month that the company was "not interested in the U.S. market anymore."


Huawei Unveils ICT Nation as Part of US Enterprise Push

It was later clarified that Xu's comments were targeted at the carrier market. The company still sees tremendous opportunity in the U.S. enterprise market, and Li said Huawei's U.S. unit will be focused on extolling the advantages of its products and "won't be distracted by noises being generated from other markets and Capitol Hill, etc."

"There is a big window [of opportunity] for Huawei in the U.S.," she said. "Companies are looking for true options in networking that they have not had in years."

ICT Nation and the company's efforts at Interop are part of Huawei's strategy for raising its profile in the industry by being more transparent in its product and go-to-market plans, Li said. "We in the past have not spent enough time getting the message out," she said.

Another opportunity will come later this month when Huawei Enterprise USA hosts its first U.S. summit in Cupertino, Calif.

The enterprise business will be a driver for Huawei globally going forward, Forrester Research analyst Dan Bieler wrote in a May 7 post on the firm's blog, where he also noted that Huawei officials had reduced their enterprise revenue expectations from $15 billion to $10 billion by 2017.

"Cloud infrastructure, including storage, and VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure], form the focus of Huawei's network activities," Bieler wrote, adding that the company needs to improve its services capabilities and offer more reference architectures and applications that are specific to particular verticals. "Meanwhile, the U.S. remains a challenged market for Huawei. Better transparency and governance will help Huawei to penetrate the U.S. market. But we believe old-fashioned capitalism is key: if Huawei has better solutions at better prices, it will overcome many political and security concerns that enterprise customers might have."

Among the announcements Huawei made at Interop was the unveiling of the high-performance CloudEngine 12816 switch, which offers 64 terabits-per-second switching capacity. It also offers power efficiency of 96 percent, according to the company.

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