How Was Huawei’s ROMA Platform Built?


The past three years have been crucial to Huawei’s own digital transformation. And today, the daily service interaction frequency of ROMA — the core integration system of the Huawei Horizon Digital Platform — exceeds 20 billion, representing more than a five-fold increase compared to three years ago.

Indeed, the ROMA platform serves 16 of Huawei’s business domains and operates in more than 20 regions worldwide. The distributed nodes deployed within Huawei, on HUAWEI CLOUD, and other public cloud platforms, constitute a globally distributed data and service grid. However, the large service volume, large data volume, and a range of complex scenarios do pose great challenges to the integration platform itself.

As integrated product development transformation began early, in 2003, so Huawei embarked on its own digital transformation journey. We adopted an industry-leading Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) software package and built a pipeline for integrated collaboration between internal mainstream applications, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Project Data Management (PDM), as well as for Business to Business (B2B) integration among Huawei, customers, partners, and suppliers. Huawei made further advances through multiple corporate-level IT transformations, such as Integrated Supply Chain (ISC) and Lead to Cash Purchase Order (LTC PO) streamlining, and Integrated Financial Services (IFS). And as 2015 arrived, Huawei began to further collaborate with business departments to address pain points during transformation projects such as ISC+. During this process, we deployed a lightweight architecture to reconstruct capabilities, and abstracted the main ideas of ROMA based on these transformation support experiences.

During this ongoing process of Huawei’s IT-based construction and digital transformation, business development has certainly posed several challenges.

Firstly, during IT-based construction, software packages were constantly introduced, with a large number of monolithic systems and platforms building up as a result. Consequently, implementing service-oriented reconstruction and agile collaboration was a sizeable challenge; similarly, exploring the value of existing assets without affecting business operations was also hard.

Secondly, the large number of integration points and various applications accumulated over the last decade or more have become the backbone for the company’s business collaboration. These integration points and applications are key nodes of the main transaction process, therefore requiring a large amount of manpower for maintenance: any errors might interrupt the main business flow, or cause serious production accidents.

In addition, ESB technology developed more than ten years ago proved unable to meet business transformation’s digital collaboration requirements.

All these are common technical problems faced by enterprises during digital transformation. In short, existing, installed bases require constant maintenance and the technologies used cannot adapt to changes.

Non-Cloud-Native Enterprises: Difficulties and Breakthroughs in Migration to the Cloud

The key to enterprise digital transformation lies in the digital platform — and integration is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the platform.

According to a report produced by global research and advisory firm Gartner, integration work will account for 60% of the total time required and total costs of building a digital transformation platform. In general then, enterprises face three pain points in digital business collaboration.

Information silos

In the past, information silos could be found in different hosts or a specific data center. However, in the digital era, information silos are simply everywhere: in data centers around the globe, in various forms of clouds, and in enterprises and other organizations in the enterprise value chain.

System separation

Traditionally, Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) systems have been separated. However, in the future, the amount of data generated by terminal and edge devices will be far larger greater than that generated by people. Currently, most of the data processed by Huawei IT systems is manually entered, but in the future, most data will be generated by things, including Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and OT systems.

Technical collaboration

In the multi-cloud era, there are many technical options, and the boundaries between organizations and regions have been broken down, with almost all technologies now found on the cloud. However, how can we apply cloud services with ease to different businesses while delivering a consistent experience? It is truly a huge challenge to mask technical differences, lower technical thresholds, and provide technical options in the digital era.

How Does Huawei’s ROMA Address These Complex Issues?

Generally speaking, the solutions for several digital transformation collaboration scenarios can be described as “ABCD.”

A2A: A refers to applications. This process involves integration between applications, the integration of data, messages, and APIs across applications, and the governance of data and services.

B2B: B indicates business. Here, we’re concerned with data exchange and B2B collaboration across enterprises, such as DT and Foxconn. Orders must be transferred from external customers, and collaborative manufacturing must be implemented.

C2C: C stands for cloud and the process involves multi-cloud collaboration. For example, ROMA began supporting integration with Salesforce and Dynamics Customer Relationship Management (CRM) internally and externally many years ago. Through ROMA, multi-cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) services can be quickly introduced to support application migration to the cloud, efficient cloud resource usage, and cross-cloud collaboration.

D2D: Finally, D represents digital or device. The process involves device interaction, as well as OT and IT system interaction. For example, the data generated by production lines is integrated into IT systems.

It is important to point out that A, B, C, and D can be combined freely in order to create multiple solutions.

In 2015, the ROMA platform framework was officially outlined and released by Huawei internally, two years before the hybrid integration platform framework was released by Gartner. ROMA also outperforms in several aspects:

Multi-layer coverage

The full-stack multi-cloud integration solution provided by ROMA is applicable to bottom-layer multi-cloud resources, middle-layer Platform as a Service (PaaS), and upper-layer Software as a Service (SaaS). Unlike ROMA, products provided by other vendors usually apply to just a single layer.

Agility and efficiency

Huawei operates in more than 160 countries and has more than 20 regional data centers, of differing scales, around the world. ROMA can be deployed globally, combining data, messages, and services on different nodes into a large grid for nearby access and self-service use.

Convergence and openness

ROMA adopts a brand-new, non-disruptive, collaborative architecture featuring comprehensive connections. As a non-cloud-native enterprise, Huawei has installed a large number of systems during its IT-based construction. The ROMA hybrid integration and collaboration solution is compatible with both old and new systems, helping to build an overall ecosystem.

In early 2017, a customer in Shenzhen, Guangdong, gave their opinion of ROMA, stating that it was an industry-leading Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP), especially in its innovative ideas: notably, multi-layer coverage, compatibility with legacy and new systems, respect for data sovereignty, and non-disruptive reconstruction.

Simply put, ROMA is attempting to simplify the road to digital transformation.

ROMA is the result of over a decade of Huawei’s digital transformation practices, and serves as the best example in demonstrating the significance of the Horizon Digital Platform.

Huawei, together with its partners, is committed to helping customers implement digital transformation and jointly building a digital industry amounting to trillions of CNY.

We believe that through continuing to focus on the pain points of digital transformation, and by planning our products in a forward-looking manner, we will better contribute to building a fully connected, digital world.

If Rome wasn’t built in a day, efforts to build ROMA into a better and better platform must remain unceasing and ongoing.