At Mobile World Congress 2017 earlier this year, governments, carriers, equipment vendors and chip providers dropped hints about the accelerated development of 5G. We may even see its commercial use before 2020. According to our discussions with carriers around the world, the diversified business requirements of 5G networks have driven them to move from traditional infrastructures towards distributed data centers and cloud-based networks. This transformation will bring carriers' business closer to customers and isolate the control plane and data plane for easier management.
Requirements for the new 5G networks include: flexible and on-demand deployment across communication standards and frequency bands; network slicing, which virtualizes a 5G network as multiple networks to be used in different vertical business scenarios; flexible orchestration of data centers' resources; the low latency and high bandwidth necessary to support video and Internet of Vehicles (IoV) applications; distributed edge computing capability of IaaS layer to support IoT and mobile edge computing (MEC) development; and seamless operation of these diversified services.
Building a 5G application ecosystem also requires full-stack service capabilities from the PaaS and SaaS layers of the cloud infrastructure. Some of the basic requirements include container development and deployment, DevOps microservice pipeline, ServiceStage (which is Huawei's DevOps platform for enterprises and developers,) big data and AI. These requirements drive carriers to evolve their existing CT cloud platforms into converged ICT cloud platforms. "All Cloud" transformation is currently not a choice, but a necessity, similar to the "all IP" transformation of a few years ago. Our main concern is how to ensure a smooth transition. Based on our insights into carriers' IT, CT, and B2B business requirements, we believe a unified cloud infrastructure is the superior option.
Cloud-based IT: The pressure to operate and maintain internal IT moves carriers to centralize resources and build unified infrastructures. Virtualization will be applied to the core BSS systems, in addition to edge systems such as MSS and OSS.
Cloud-based CT: Cloud-based CT systems can address carriers' needs during their digital transformation, like shortening time to market from months to days, flexibly provisioning resources in minutes (reduced from weeks), virtualizing network elements, fulfilling carrier-class SLA (availability and latency) in cross-DC scenarios, enabling a smooth evolution to 5G and IoT, deploying value-added business-to-consumer and business-to-home services and applications on clouds, and deploying new digital services based on cloud-native architecture.
Cloud-based B2B services: Faced with competition from cloud services in the enterprise market, carriers' B2B services must change from the private line leasing and equipment reselling services typical of traditional data centers to more efficient and profitable services such as cloud hosting, hybrid cloud and public cloud.
Unified cloud infrastructure Analysis of the requirements for IT, CT, and B2B services leads to the same conclusion: carriers need unified cloud infrastructures that support multiple tenants. A unified cloud infrastructure is the most efficient and cost-effective solution in the long term. A unified cloud infrastructure can also prevent information siloing by different departments within a company, thus eliminating wasted investments and business isolation. Well-known Tier 1 carriers, including Telefónica , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA), are adopting this solution and building a unified cloud. Many leading OTT companies have taken the lead in developing a unified service catalog for public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud. They have proved the feasibility of building one cloud for internal and external services and have demonstrated significant improvements to their production and operation efficiency.
Most carriers have initiated cloud transformation. Different from the cloud-native OTT companies, carriers are "cloud immigrants," so the degree of cloudification varies by carrier. Cloud transformation involves clouds, IT products, applications, physical machines, virtual machines and containers provided by different vendors, which makes unified management and scheduling of heterogeneous resources the top priorities. Therefore, most carriers choose OpenStack-based clouds to ensure smooth cloud evolution.
Huawei is also a "cloud immigrant," and has a complex internal IT infrastructure consisting of many traditional systems and innovative services. Huawei is also in the middle of transforming its internal IT infrastructure, so we fully understand carriers' requirements and challenges. Through our own experience, we have found an effective way to manage clouds.
Enterprises often have diversified and complicated services, so their IT must be capable of deploying and managing multiple clouds, to prevent information silos. To build multiple clouds, first a company must be able to manage and schedule IT resources across clouds. Secondly, they need an integration platform to streamline applications and resources and transmit messages, thereby enabling hitless interconnection between public clouds and private clouds and ensuring rapid responses. These measures will make cloud platform the enabler, rather than a bottleneck for business innovation.
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd is promoting digital transformation because it can help enterprises develop and operate efficiently. New IT technologies will drive business innovation. The "Cloud First" strategy helps to streamline organizations, business processes, and budgets for companies, ensuring the timely deployment of cutting-edge IT technologies. "Cloud First" means to prioritize cloud in all decisions regarding technology, investment and business models. In terms of technology, adopt cloud-native architecture. For investments, choose cloud management to prevent wasted investment. When designing a business model, recommend cloud services to customers (on-premise deployment is also supported). "Cloud First" doesn't mean transforming all services into cloud services at once; it means preparing the management system to support the well-paced transformation of various services.
The "Cloud First" strategy will help carriers build open and unified clouds that will become the engine for "All Cloud" transformation and lay the foundation for the upcoming 5G era.