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CloudEdge is Driving Mobile Broadband

CloudEdge is Huawei’s next-generation Mobile Broadband (MBB) core network architecture that combines Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). By deploying the CloudEdge solution, operators can build open, flexible, and automated next-generation MBB networks that respond to the continuing demand for new services and network flexibility.

“Cloud-Formation” via NFV Services

Driven by the growing interest in network virtualization, NFV has become a must-discuss resource among operators. Against this backdrop, most equipment vendors have directly migrated traditional Evolved Packet Core (EPC) Network Elements (NEs) to virtual platforms. NE virtualization by itself compromises network elasticity due to limited support for scalability, performance, and reliability requirements.

In addition to providing a virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) component, Huawei’s CloudEdge NFV solution includes virtualized Multi-Service Engine (vMSE) and virtualized Unified Intelligence Center (vUIC) components.

Together, vEPC, vMSE, and vUIC are the building blocks for Huawei’s NFV-based “Cloud-Formation” method. For operators, the benefit is the ability to initialize internal and external facing services, flexibly and at scale. The result is transformative, as operators need no longer worry about manually responding to extreme workloads in the face of peak network traffic.

CloudEdge Overview

Exceeding Operator Requirements

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) employ many unique tactics for Quality of Service (QoS) assurance.

The vEPC is essential for replacing the under-utilized dedicated hardware — provisioned to meet worst-case scenarios, but routinely left idle — for orchestrating end-to-end service-chains of multiple virtual functions.

The vMSE helps resolve a range of 3GPP Gi-LAN, LTE interface pain points on live networks caused by co-existing service engines and software platforms. Results include improved time frames for rolling out new services, reducing the complexity of network capacity expansion, and simplifying service maintenance. The vMSE is engineered to be a third-party aggregation platform that enables Gi-LAN, QoS service software to be quickly deployed.

Third-party vendors only need to optimize and refine services, while resource scheduling, capacity management, and traffic distribution are left to the vMSE platform. New services are deployed as easily as installing a Windows® executable. The vMSE approach dramatically accelerates the time-to-market of any new service. For example, if an enterprise were to need a video acceleration function (see Tencent use-case, below), an operator would easily deploy that function into the enterprise technical plant in a matter of minutes.

The vUIC platform provides API access to MBB network capabilities for third-party OTT service providers and vertical industries. The vUIC platform is a reporting engine, capable of spawning large numbers of new services and designed to collect and report data for further processing and analysis. An example is the storage and analysis of mobile network tracks, scrubbed of personal information, and used 1) to visualize real-time of automobile and truck traffic conditions to populations of local users, as is done today, and 2) to proactively calculate and present optimal alternate routes — a service that is yet to be perfected.

For the entire CloudEdge package:

  • Internal services include the ability to initialize contingency policies upon fault detection that, in the background and transparent to end-users, will switch services across multiple data centers.
  • Externally, to better cache video files to forever eliminate the universally familiar start-and-wait behavior known to every mobile Internet user on planet.

From the earliest design phase, Huawei has positioned CloudEdge as a service innovation platform that required the complete virtualization of all EPC, MSE, and UIC functions.

Advancing MBB “Cloud-Formation”

Huawei is organizing NFV open laboratories around the world with the aim of promoting multi-vendor innovation, integration, and verification.

  • With acclaim from Tier-1 operators, through Q1-2015, Huawei has completed Proof of Concept (PoC) tests and pre-commercial deployments of CloudEdge in partnership with over 30 leading telcos, including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone UK, and China Mobile.
  • In February 2015, Huawei founded the MBB Interconnect Open Base Lab in Shenzhen and Shanghai to work with the growing industry of OTT service providers and third-party vendors for technical innovation and commercial tests with the understanding that CloudEdge is an important catalyst for MBB network transformation, but alone is insufficient to create large-scale change. The MBB Open Lab exists to help operators create new sources of revenue through updated network architectures and industry ecosystems. The goal is to provide each stakeholder with the opportunity to orchestrate “Blue Ocean” strategies for creating breakthrough markets that are free of competitors.
  • Chinese Internet giant Tencent is the first OTT service provider to join the MBB Open Lab, within which they have developed a video acceleration project for its online game “We Fire” that reduces network latency and provides a better game experience. The upgraded “We Fire” platform is currently in commercial use in China Mobile’s Guangdong Branch.
  • Location-based Big Data analytics are now in commercial use by China Unicom’s Shanghai Branch. The availability of time and place correlations provide valuable source data for market research, facilitating accurate forecasts for customer scenarios such as determining retail store locations or evaluating lease values for highway billboards based on automobile traffic. CloudEdge functionality includes the ability to dramatically reduce the cost of data acquisition relative to the increasing degrees of statistical precision.

It is expected that more OTT service providers and third-party partners will join the MBB Interconnection Open Base Lab.

Additionally, Huawei is actively collaborating with international standards organizations and open-source communities to drive evolution of industry best practices in innovative technologies such as NFV.

  • To date, Huawei is the largest single contributor to the ETSI Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization (ETSI ISG NFV), with over 236 proposals accepted.
  • Dr. Frank Mademann from Huawei has been elected as the chairman of 3GPP SA2. 
  • Other industry associations in which Huawei is participating include: OPNFV — Platinum Member and Board of Directors; OpenStack — Gold Member; and Open Virtualization Alliance — Supporting Member.

In December 2014, Huawei’s CloudEdge solution received the Total Telecom World Communications Award for “Best Infrastructure Initiative,” and, in June 2015, the CloudEdge platform won the “Best NFV Innovation of the Year” award at the 2015 LTE World Summit hosted by Informa.

By combining networking elements that enable operators and third party vendors to build open, flexible, and automated MBB networks, the Huawei CloudEdge solution provides a complete, whole-network management package. Faster service rollouts, reduced maintenance, better resource utilization, and enhanced user experiences make the CloudEdge solution an obvious choice to help operators to build a “Better Connected World.”

By Rui Huang

Senior Marketing Manager, Packet Core Network Support, Huawei Technologies, Inc.

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