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Accelerating Cloud Transformation for Carriers

Today, we are in the midst of a transformation in which increasing dependence on the Internet is changing the way we study, work, and live. Internet-based user experiences now include Real-time, On-demand, All-online, Do-It-Yourself (DIY), and Social elements that Huawei calls ROADS. Technically, ROADS requires resource sharing, agile innovation, elastic extensibility, and easy maintenance. To implement the capabilities offered by the ROADS environment, carriers with traditional networks need to upgrade their network architecture, operating models, and service development methodologies.

Like the Internet Protocol (IP) technology of the last two decades, the recent boom in Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and cloud computing promises to help carriers evolve their networks to become more open, interconnected, and innovative ecosystems.

All-Cloud Architecture

During the all-IP era, Huawei was committed to the single strategy of supporting fast and efficient development for carrier networks. In this new era, Huawei is promoting an ‘All-Cloud’ telecommunication architecture that is agile, easily upgradable, efficient and, most importantly, enables the necessary digital transformation for business to keep pace with rapidly changing markets.

The advantage of the All-Cloud strategy is the ability to provide software-defined functions. Huawei’s All-Cloud technology cloudifies the networks, services, and operations of basic network resources by providing pooled hardware resources to maximize resource sharing. The result is a fully distributed architecture that ensures high system scalability, elasticity, and reliability, as well as full automation of resource scheduling and troubleshooting.

Three Phases of All-Cloud Architecture

Virtualization, Cloudification, and Cloud Native

All-Cloud implementations for carrier networks must go through three phases: virtualization, cloudification, and cloud native. Cloudification and cloud native implementations achieve full and complete network abstraction, while virtualization does not. The solutions most industry vendors provide today are designed for the virtualization phase, which only decouples software from hardware. The principles of the Huawei cloudification and cloud native designs anticipate the maximum degrees of abstraction for flexibility and reliability from the start.

The NFV (virtualization) phase of development improves resource utilization by decoupling hardware and software, allowing the deployment of multiple Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) on unified hardware.

In the cloudification phase, the VNF architecture is optimized and reconstructed by using concepts that support a three-layer software architecture. The new architecture consists of distributed load balancing, distributed database, and stateless service processing units. It provides the ability to scale elastically within seconds without interruption to live sessions and introduces automatic service and resource orchestration to enhance the flexibility of the entire system. 99.999 percent carrier-class reliability for cloud networks is achieved using KPI-based health check, self-recovery, and disaster tolerance protocols that span multiple data centers.

When carrier networks enter the cloud-native phase, network slicing, agile infrastructure, microservices, containers, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and other innovations are able to be incorporated into the construction of new ICT business models. The cloud-native environment is organized to assemble VNFs with flexibility, as needed, which allows for network services to be set up and released at any time, including the full automation of network Operations & Management (O&M) and service procedures. Carriers that complete the All-Cloud transformation become equipped to quickly meet specific network requirements for widely differentiated business demands.

Next-Generation Transformation

For carriers, a comprehensive All-Cloud transformation will catalyze fundamental changes to network architecture and organizational talent, as well as new business and operation models. Proactively exploring the technical and business impact of All-Cloud architectures with many of the world’s largest and most innovative telecommunication carriers, Huawei is promoting a roadmap for success that can be referenced and replicated throughout the industry.

U.K.-based carrier Vodafone is preparing to deploy next-generation network technology as part of its ‘Everything Moves on the Cloud’ vision, which is designed to reduce costs, speed new services to market, and simplify operations. In July 2015, with Huawei’s full support and assistance, Vodafone Italy announced the launch of the world’s first cloud-based commercial Voice-over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) network.

Huawei has established NFV Open Labs in Xi’an, China, Silicon Valley, California, and Munich, Germany to complete integration verifications and prototype joint innovations with carriers, partners, and industry organizations with the goal of accelerating the industrialization of NFV.

As of Q2 2016, Huawei’s strategic collaboration with leading telecom carriers has resulted in nearly 90 commercial cloud-based networks deployed or being deployed, including:

  • World’s first VoLTE cloud network for U.K.’s Vodafone
  • Europe’s first VoLTE cloud network for Belgium’s Telenet
  • Europe’s first Evolved Packet Core (EPC) cloud network for Monaco Telecom
  • World’s first Diameter Routing Agent (DRA) cloud network for U.K.’s Hutchison Holdings
  • Middle East’s first commercial cloud network for Qatar’s Ooredoo

Ooredoo and Huawei jointly won the ‘Mobile Infrastructure Innovation Award’ at the Global Telecoms Business (GTB) Innovation Awards 2016 in recognition of their achievement.

All-Cloud Development Trends

Industry leader AT&T launched its Domain 2.0 cloud project in 2013 to provide open cloud networks and reconstruct carrier services through a complete hardware-centric to software-centric transformation of the network infrastructure. AT&T plans to complete their network transformation before 2020. They expect that software will account for 75 percent of the cost to own and operate the network.

World-leading carriers Vodafone, Telefónica, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, Ooredoo, and Etisalat have released network transformation strategies and objectives for 2020. To support their efforts, Huawei will continue to advocate the benefits of All-Cloud products and solutions for carrier networks to better accelerate development and drive business success in the decades ahead.

By Liu Hao

Senior Marketing Manager, Cloud Core Network, Huawei Technologies, Co., Ltd.