Huawei UBBF: Cloud-Network Synergy Can Drive Managed Cloud Services for Telcos

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

• Ultra broadband access will drive enterprise digital transformation, forcing requirements for more agile telco network services including cloud access and multi-cloud connectivity.

• The key factor is the decoupling of service and network management through the use of overlay/underlay networks, resulting in more flexible solutions that can be deployed quickly.

Huawei hosted UBBF 2018 in Geneva last week, bringing telcos, enterprises, and analysts up to date on its efforts in ultra broadband access (i.e., technology capable of 500 Mbps to 1 Gbps bandwidth). Curiously, the program also included significant time and content dedicated to B2B services with a focus on cloud-network synergy and the benefits to service provider and user. At times, the message wasn’t completely clear on which clouds Huawei was including in its vision (e.g., telco network clouds, telco public clouds, OTT clouds), but eventually, the vendor’s ideas for using a cloud management system to offer enterprises a one-stop shop for network and cloud services using SD-WAN for multi-cloud connectivity came through in several proposed use cases. (For more detail on this topic, see the full advisory report, “UBBF 2018: Cloud-Network Synergy High on Agenda at Huawei’s Ultra Broadband Forum,” published by GlobalData on September 17, 2018.

Starting from the premise that very soon, most IT and industry applications will be hosted in a cloud (85% by 2025 according to Huawei’s own research), the ultimate solution would be a cloud+network subscription with online ordering, zero-touch provisioning, and always-on service level guarantees, all providing access to multiple clouds through one service.

Traditionally, enterprises have been stymied by the disconnect between cloud and network services, often waiting several weeks for provisioning of a private line from their office or data center to their cloud provider of choice, or between different clouds. Public cloud platform providers solved part of the problem by recruiting telcos for direct access services (e.g., AWS Direct Connect and Microsoft’s ExpressRoute) or by creating their own inter-cloud services (like Alibaba’s Cloud Backbone Network). New SD-WAN overlay services can also provide fast cloud connections from anywhere in the world for access and backbone, although enterprise adoption is still just beginning to ramp up.

As things are, though, telecom networks are still difficult to interoperate with clouds, relying on a manual underlay connection between WAN and data center that takes too much time to provision. Once connections are made, it’s hard to ensure a guaranteed customer experience for specific apps because the network isn’t application-aware. This lack of agility at the tenant level (including complex operations and maintenance) makes it difficult to provision cloud services that are flexible.

Huawei was most keen on testing the waters of what it calls a one stop service for cloud and network that uses the operator’s telco cloud (or public cloud) infrastructure to build a tenant-level overlay virtual network, or a “cloudified Network as a Service (NaaS)” to provide multi-cloud interconnection as a kind of cloud backbone. Huawei says the overlay enables service and network decoupling, allowing customer-facing departments to provision and manage services separately from back office infrastructure departments. For the enterprise, the solution promises a one-stop procurement and control point for all cloud connections with fast configuration and deployment. Telcos could also develop managed and professional services around the solution, with cloud migration, rationalization, and SD-WAN-based solutions.

So far, at least two Huawei telco customers in Japan and Switzerland are selling SD-WAN based on this solution, but the real opportunity would come when packaging third party cloud services as part of a bundled offer. Network-centric service providers looking to offer managed multi-cloud services should at least look at Huawei’s OpenStack-based cloud management platform as a potential solution for enterprises to plan, deploy, and maintain their network, compute, and application services (see also, “Multi-Cloud Services: Service Provider and Vendor Approaches Keep Coming,” September 6, 2018).


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