Sinopec Jiangsu Builds an Upgraded SD-WAN Network with Huawei iMaster NCE
With the development of various emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, AI, and 5G, there is increasing value being placed on and exploration into corporate data governance, big data applications, and digital transformation. Smart research institutes, smart gas stations, smart CRM, and smart logistics systems have been constructed, all as part of the digital journey. In addition, we have integrated the latest technologies, like AI, IoT, VR/AR, big data, and robotics, into the core production of petrochemicals. As we invest further efforts into intelligent transformation, IT systems and platforms must be fully connected to gas stations in all cities of Jiangsu province, which will ensure the effective handling of services. The construction of low-cost, efficient, and intelligent networks represents a major challenge.
SD-WAN has become a new network trend over the past two years. The service was developed by applying SDN technologies to WAN, and is used to connect enterprise networks, data centers, Internet applications, and cloud services across large geographical areas. This helps users reduce costs and build WANs with an open architecture, flexible programming, and simple O&M to carry the traffic of increasingly diverse services. Eventually, services will start driving networks on demand, while networks will dynamically adapt to services, all of which is essential for enterprises in the multi-cloud era.
In early 2022, Sinopec Jiangsu Oil Products Company (Sinopec Jiangsu for short) started revamping and reconstructing its networks, including those for its gas stations, in order to achieve fully-integrated gas stations and improve end-user experience regarding services like fuel cards. In addition, Huawei's iMaster NCE (Autonomous Driving Network management and control system) is being used to realize the intelligent management of SD-WAN networks, and build a more secure and reliable information network that offers larger bandwidth, better experience, and sustainable evolution. iMaster NCE also provides Sinopec Jiangsu with network assurance during the company's digital transformation.
With 5G networks becoming increasingly prevalent and mature, Sinopec Jiangsu has taken the lead to build 5G as backup links to interconnect smart gas stations with data centers, and explore how 5G and SD-WAN technologies can be applied to smart oil stations. Following the commissioning of live networks, gas-station fuel cards and electronic wallets will always work as intended as long as the networks are stable. This will make network access at the new intelligent gas stations more flexible and secure, and equip them with agile network deployment and service provisioning, all of which will accelerate the construction of gas stations in towns.
The business transformation of any enterprise is rooted in ICT infrastructure, with nearby networks being absolutely integral. Sinopec Jiangsu has a typical network and O&M architecture: Gas stations in various cities connect with provincial/city-level data centers, while city oil depots connect to the provincial company through municipal companies. SD-WAN networks enable flexible networking at the logical layer and can dynamically interconnect with multiple hubs, according to region and service, based on demand. This architecture not only isolates different production networks, guaranteeing service security, but also eliminates the need to build multiple physical networks, greatly reducing network construction costs.
Unlike traditional private lines, Internet connections are relatively unstable, being plagued by delay and packet loss that can be detrimental to production, video conferencing, and other such services. SD-WAN, as a promising new technology, boasts intelligent optimization capabilities that traditional networks lack, and is capable of better safeguarding services.
Generally, when the packet loss ratio of Internet connections reaches 2%, the picture starts to become distorted. When it rises to 5%, picture quality becomes abysmal. According to one municipal company that performs regular video checks, the adaptive forward error correction technology (A-FEC) is very effective for optimizing connection quality.
When a fault occurs, SD-WAN intelligently schedules gas station services to be sent to Internet connections. In other words, the SD-WAN uses an encrypted tunnel that is based on 4G/5G for transmission, ensuring service continuity and reducing costs.
There is an urgent demand for network reconstruction. Jiangsu is home to many gas stations, but O&M personnel primarily work at provincial and municipal companies. Coordinating IT department staff to reconstruct existing networks faster and more effectively is a major challenge faced by petrochemical O&M.
Sinopec Jiangsu has discussed solutions for this based on business scenarios, and incubated multiple deployment pilots. Thanks to the zero-touch deployment of iMaster NCE, Sinopec Jiangsu was able to reconstruct over 2700 HQ and gas-station networks in seven weeks without affecting operations.
To date, Sinopec Jiangsu has reconstructed every gas and oil station in the province, totaling over 2700 sites, and has implemented dynamic network connectivity based on services, laying a solid network foundation for digital transformation.