Driven by technologies like the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and edge computing, ultra-fast reliable network connections — available anytime and anywhere — have become one of the core competitive strengths for enterprises, societies, and countries alike.
So today, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in almost every enterprise are re-thinking how to apply new connection technologies — including 5G, power-efficient short-range Internet of Things (IoT), and Wi-Fi 6 — to improve collaboration, production, and operational efficiency, as well as accelerate innovation.
Although digital scenarios vary, digital transformation is required in all sectors if multiple objectives are to be achieved, including improving enterprise office and operational efficiency, reconstructing enterprise production environments, and streamlining communication with customers. Indeed, digital transformation doesn’t only take place in an enterprise’s headquarters, it must also be implemented in global branches, and even by global manufacturing and logistics partners.
Every enterprise knows that high efficiency is beneficial. This much is a given. Today, the email-based non-real-time communication services of traditional enterprise office networks can no longer meet the requirements for communications efficiency. Therefore, the current enterprise communication market is witnessing a large number of applications emerge that realize real-time services, from communication and video interaction, to collaboration and project management. This shift has, in turn, increased the required average bandwidth per user from 3–5 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s. And to meet the requirements of today’s Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) training and design, as well as the requirements of 4K telepresence video conferencing systems, the peak wireless rate for each user needs to reach from 100 Mbit/s up to 1.5 Gbit/s.
Elsewhere, for enterprises with multiple global branches, new emerging digital applications are redefining production efficiency. Indeed, we can already see examples of digital applications in different sectors.
In the warehousing sector, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are being used more extensively for automated warehouse management, since they can improve the efficiency of warehousing 100-fold. However, this requires wireless networks that can ensure zero packet loss during roaming.
In the education sector, teachers use remote or VR classrooms to provide classes for students in multiple locations at the same time, improving the overall quality of learning. However, the latency of VR applications must be less than 10 ms if a high-quality learning experience is to be ensured.
And in the retail sector, Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) are widely used in stores to enable prices to dynamically change based on the shelf life of commodities and the in-store environment. However, integrated deployment and management of Wi-Fi and IoT networks must be achieved to make full use of this application.
In short, wireless connections are the basis of these digital applications. However, different applications place strict — even harsh — requirements on wireless networks. This raises concerns for many enterprise CIOs, since Information Technology (IT) personnel worry about deploying wireless networks in production scenarios without being able to monitor the quality of applications on networks nor quickly resolve issues.
So many CIOs may ask their IT department directors: "Is our network ready for digital transformation? And what kind of network do we need?"
We believe that the campus network of the future has three unique features. It will have super capacity, offering gigabit speeds and beyond. It will offer an intelligent experience through Continuous Self-Organizing Networking (CSON). And it will be capable of autonomous driving, with service provisioning and troubleshooting performed in minutes
Such a network is ready to support the digital service requirements of enterprises for the next ten years. In addition, we believe that current network architecture should not be abandoned. Rather, we need to evolve it in phases, moving toward gigabit fully-wireless network architecture.
Super Capacity: Gigabit Speeds and Beyond
In the new era, campus network architecture will undergo three key changes to deliver fully-wireless access for offices and production services, providing ultra-high-speed connections exceeding 1 Gbit/s for each user. The first change is implementing fully-wireless access. While Since 2019, Wi-Fi 6 has only been put into commercial use by a small number of enterprises, but by 2024, 80% of enterprises will be using Wi-Fi 6. Huawei’s new AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 series of Access Points (APs) are unique in the industry, featuring 16 built-in smart antennas. These APs provide full coverage for every user, offering a throughput of up to 10.75 Gbit/s.
Along with the implementation of Wi-Fi 6, another key change will come to port rates. With upgraded Wi-Fi networks, wired access switches need to support the new IEEE 802.3bz standard, which requires multi-GE switches. These switches provide multiple port rates, including 2.5 Gbit/s, 5 Gbit/s, and 10 Gbit/s.
Finally, one network for multiple purposes will be required to support all-round connections. Fully-wireless access for IoT terminals requires a wireless network to provide access, authentication, authorization, access control, and device management for short-range IoT terminals of various types, including Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), ZigBee, and thread terminals.
Intelligent Experience: CSON
As an increasing number of key services are carried on campus networks, the network experience directly impacts how efficiently users can collaborate and how efficiently services can operate. Service- and user-oriented End to End (E2E) experience assurance is the key to measuring the quality of campus networks. To provide an optimal network experience, a campus network must cope with three core challenges.
First, networks must reduce radio interference. Wi-Fi networks are easy to obtain and deploy, but they use the limited unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. Therefore, co-channel interference is still an issue. Based on the Basic Service Set (BSS) coloring feature, Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to proactively learn network traffic behavior and radio information, to greatly reduce interference and improve network-wide performance by 58%.
The packet loss rate of campus networks also needs to be radically reduced during Station (STA) roaming. Service interruption during STA roaming can occur for any number of reasons. For example, STAs may stick to a previous AP due to different signal strength requirements. Or, services may be interrupted due to STAs failing to set up links with the target AP during roaming. To prevent packet loss during roaming, Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs use AI technology to dynamically detect and predict the roaming characteristics and paths of STAs. With the help of the optimized 802.11k/v/r fast roaming protocols, APs can increase the roaming success rate of STAs to 100% and reduce the service packet loss rate to nearly zero.
Networks also need to increase the usage of network resources. A fully-wireless campus network differs from a traditional campus network in two major aspects, which may cause bottlenecks in network performance. First, due to the swarm effect of STAs, burst high-density access can occur anywhere on a fully-wireless campus. Second, as cloud applications produce large north-south traffic on the campus network, burst traffic may cause congestion on the ports of aggregation and core switches, affecting service quality. Compounding matters, the occurrence of these issues is highly unpredictable. Huawei, however, provides two innovative technologies to effectively solve them. Huawei innovatively integrates both Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) into AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 products for joint scheduling. This prevents traffic congestion on the wireless side in the case of service concurrency. An additional innovative technology is user- and application-based intelligent Hierarchical Quality of Service (HQoS). This ensures a satisfactory experience for Very Important Person (VIP) users and key applications when the wired network is congested due to traffic bursts.
Autonomous Driving: Service Provisioning and Troubleshooting in Minutes
Network management was not originally a major challenge for campus networks. However, as the number of branch networks has increased, and with wireless coverage now being more widely applied, simplifying network management and O&M — as well as the management of the overall user experience — has become a new challenge.
Different sized networks may have different management requirements, but all need to have simplified management and O&M, regardless. Against this backdrop, the Huawei CloudCampus Solution introduces iMaster Network Cloud Engine (NCE), a one-of-a-kind Network Management System (NMS) that can centrally manage and maintain Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs), Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), and networks at enterprise headquarters as well as their branches. Huawei also provides customers with a wide degree of flexibility in networking. iMaster NCE can be flexibly deployed on-premises or in public or Managed Service Provider (MSP)-owned clouds. With the help of iMaster NCE, customers can roll out networks and services in mere minutes. Furthermore, the CloudCampus Solution features an industry-leading, AI-powered intelligent O&M system — CampusInsight. The efficiency and effectiveness of CampusInsight have already been widely proven in the real world, on Huawei’s own campuses and by global customers working across industries. For Huawei, CampusInsight evaluates and analyzes the network experience of up to 190,000 employees in real-time, to proactively detect potential network faults, helping IT managers quickly locate and rectify them. With CampusInsight, enterprise O&M personnel gain full visibility of the entire network’s quality for the very first time.
A campus network is the main venue for enterprise digital service innovation. Since the initiation of its commercial use in 2017, the Huawei CloudCampus Solution has been used by customers across diverse industries in more than 100 countries and regions around the world. Huawei is recognized as a mainstream provider of differentiated campus network solutions and services by independent analyst organizations such as Gartner, IDC, Forrester, and the Dell’Oro Group. Huawei is also a leading vendor in the campus switch and WLAN fields.
Over the past few years, the Huawei CloudCampus Solution has been applied in various sectors, to build digital-ready networks. Typical examples include fully-wireless office environments for enterprises and governments, unstaffed retail stores for retailers, VR multimedia classrooms for educational institutions, digital production lines and flexible manufacturing for manufacturers, and fully-wireless 24/7 business branches for financial service institutions. Huawei also helps Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and MSPs provide cloud-managed network services for their customers. We believe that next generation, gigabit wireless intelligent campus networks — built with Huawei’s CloudCampus Solution and using disruptive IT technologies such as Wi-Fi 6, short-range IoT, AI, automation, and Autonomous Driving Networks (ADNs) — will be the cornerstone for the digital transformation of enterprises over the next ten years.
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