There’s no doubt what the key word, and indeed the keyword, was at Huawei’s glitzy pre-MWC bash held in London earlier today. That word was Open. Open SoftCOM, open NFV, open platforms, open everything.
First, Huawei defined where we are all heading, saying that as consumers of services all our behaviours will be a ROADS experience. ROADS stands for:
This transformation in how we behave will not send us down the current narrow paths we wander along in our troubled lives, but via Open ROADS. Fulfilling ROADS is essentially the transformation that all industries, including telecoms, will have to undergo to support this user experience. In telco that means the open cloud telco.
So Huawei’s key point is this – to get to OpenROADS, everything needs to change and that change is about, well, openness. That’s because carriers, partners, service providers, vertical industries etc etc all need to be able to create services and value in a different way to today. That means that Huawei is working to make everything as open as it can: it is waving its “Open” wand over the Data Centre, Network Infrastructure, Operating System and Service layers. There are three logical layers, according to Dr Sanqi Li, CTO, Products & Solutions. “The bottom layer is related to transformation of the data centre and Cloud OS and network infrastructure/network OS. Then it’s about simplifying operations (devops) then about a converged platform to enable services to create value propositions. The challenge for us is to help the carrier in this migration.” Each of these layers will be opened by the adoption of open source, or shared, technologies such as OpenStack, ONOS, OpenNFV and so on – and Huawei wants to take an increasingly large part in all these developments.
Go to any open source newly formed activities you will see Huawei is a key player. For instance in ONOS, we are the founding member. We are a top five contributor to big data analytics.
(Dr Sanqi Li, CTO, Products & Solutions)
This openness builds from a foundation of open infrastructure, open source management, to open platforms, an open tools Devops environment and open ecosystem. It’s a multi-layer approach.
What are Huawei’s proof points of this open-ness? Well, it has opened (geddit) its NFV/SDN Open Labs – with 20 labs involved worldwide – where it works with partners to “loosely couple components across multiple planes, enabling multi-vendor integration and interworking” (Dr Li). It has joint open NFV and SDN experience/innovation centres with Tencent and Vodafone.
And in terms of Huawei’s own capabilities, here’s how it maps product and solution areas to the ecosystem it wants to be part of, and also that it wants to create, and here is how it says it is making sure it is acting in an open manner in each layer of the network.
Datacentre infrastructure is served by its FusionSphere cloud controller. Here the company has said it has built a strong ecosystem in Cloud OS deployment, with over 500 ecosystem parters over the past four years
Network OS comes under the control of the Agile Controller. With its Agile Controller Huawei said it is building towards a unified SDN – working with multiple OS components that could be Microsoft System Center, its own FusionSphere, VMWare or other parties’ OpenStack capabilities. Huawei said it would focus more on ONOS open source, because it is more carrier driven – by the likes of ATT, SKT, NTT and others. ONOS, Huawei said, focusses on carrier things that are good specifically for carriers – enabling highly distributed systems with high availability.
The NFV environment is served by CloudEdge and CloudCore. Here is where Huawei says it working to be able to interwork with all of the main hardware providers, as well as virtual machine providers, and the providers of telcoms applications (vEPC, vIMS etc) from the likes of Alcatel-Lucent and other telecoms vendors. The Services layer is enabled by FusionInsight, TelcoOS and Digital inCloud.
Cloud Management and control is achieved by FusionCloud, which works to “share” Openstack via a third party API to public cloud environments. This, Huawei says, can create public-private cloud management capability that can give public cloud apps the same security and control as telcos will have over their private data centres.
These then are the building blocks through which Huawei hopes to enable the open telco to meet the ROADS experience. The company will no doubt be putting further detail on this outline next week at Mobile World Congress but this is the key messaging you are going to see.
One question the presentation threw up with a few analysts is “where is the hardware”?
— Kris Szaniawski (@kszaniawski) February 24, 2015
Although the company did show a new router specifically designed to enhance video flows, the rest of the presentation majored heavily, as you can see, on the software environment – for NFV MANO, SDN, BSS and for cloud management. In the Q&A Huawei confirmed that it would continue to sell hardware, and said that it had 80% of its engineers lined up on software. But it wasn’t asked, and nor did it say, what its current hardware/software revenue split was, or what it thought it might be in five years.
Of course the company’s “open ecosystem” rhetoric is designed to place it at the centre of efforts to monetise the new NFV-SDN telco cloud environment – rather than leave it cut off as a mere supplier of increasingly low cost hardware. Ecosystems, though, can be hard on those not suited to adapting to survival. It is these adaptations that Huawei – just like all the other telco and traditional IT vendors – will have to make. But if the reality matches the Powerpoint, then Huawei has already started its own evolutionary mutation.