Huawei Wants to Drive Telcos to the Cloud

CEO Eric Xu unveiled the vendor's All Cloud strategy, which will help carriers meet the growing demand for more network bandwidth and performance.

cloud computing

Huawei Technologies executives are outlining a cloud computing strategy aimed at accelerating the transformation of network operators into more complete cloud services providers.

At the company's Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2016 April 11 in Shenzhen, China, rotating CEO Eric Xu unveiled the giant tech vendor's "All Cloud" initiative in which Huawei will cloud-enable all of its products and solutions to help telecommunications companies more easily embrace cloud infrastructures. At its core, the strategy involves what Xu called the "full reconstruction of infrastructure networks" in equipment, network, services and operations.

At the analyst summit last year, Huawei executives unveiled the company's ROADS (real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social) effort, outlining the five elements needed to offer telco users the best experience possible and to enable network service providers to address the increasing consumer demands for network bandwidth and quality, and to push back at the growing challenge of over-the-top (OTT) vendors that are endangering carriers' traditional voice and messaging services.

According to Xu, service providers can't deliver that optimum user experience without an aggressive cloud strategy.

"A ROADS experience cannot be achieved without support from services, networks and operations systems," the CEO said in a statement. "Driven by end users' needs for a better experience, Huawei proactively advocates the 'All Cloud' strategy, promotes network modernization, and works to enable digital transformation across industries, thus meeting end-user needs to enable customer success."

Over the past several years, Huawei has become a significant player in the global networking market, pushing beyond China and into areas such as Europe and emerging markets. In March, IDC analysts noted that the company is growing quickly in the Ethernet switch and router spaces, with revenue for the former jumping 34.9 percent in 2015 over the previous year. Its enterprise and service provider router business grew 22.1 percent. It competes with such vendors as Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Juniper Networks and Ericsson.

Huawei's effort also comes as the trend continues toward increased attention and spending on IT infrastructure for cloud environments. IDC analysts this month have indicated that revenue for both private and public cloud IT systems—in particular servers, storage and networking gear—will grow rapidly between now and 2020: 13.8 percent a year for public cloud infrastructure and 10.2 percent for private clouds.

Huawei in recent years has aggressively grown its capabilities in both the cloud and in network virtualization, including software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV). For example, Huawei has partnered with the likes of Red Hat in such areas as OpenStack clouds and NFV, and has built an SDN and NFV test lab that has sites in the United States, China and Germany. In addition, in December 2015, Huawei announced an alliance with Telefonica Business Solutions to help companies migrate their businesses to the cloud.

According to Huawei officials, the All Cloud strategy includes essentially helping telcos shift their entire networks to a data center-centric architecture. The goal is to create an environment of pooled hardware resources, full distributed software architectures and network functions, services and workloads running in a cloud data center. Among the resources Huawei will bring to bear on the initiative are its FusionSphere cloud operating system, FusionInsight big data platform and FusionStage distributed platform-as-a-service (PaaS). With a unified and open architecture, Huawei officials will be able to help businesses more easily embrace public, private and hybrid clouds, they said.

The CEO noted that even with NFV in place, businesses "still adopt a traditional method for managing the software architecture and operations model. If we can move another step forward and use the cloudification concept to make network software fully distributed and automated, we can realize Network Functions Cloudification."

Company officials noted that for carriers, Huawei will look to develop cloud-based Internet of things (IoT), video services and cloud service platforms and will help drive the use of network resources in the cloud. For enterprises, the company will push to have customers more their IT systems to the cloud, will accelerate the migration of enterprise networks to SDN to create a more agile environment, and will enable the use of big data technologies. In the consumer business, Huawei will continue to build a global service system—including core services capabilities—and develop user services, officials said.