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Huawei SoftCOM: Reshaping the Future of Network Architecture

Technology advancements have created infinite connected possibilities but have also brought critical challenges. Current network infrastructure designs have not kept pace with ever-growing requirements; telecom operators are struggling to keep up with the rapid network upgrades necessary to support their customers’ increasing demand for bandwidth and personalized services and they have been unable to reap appropriate returns on the investments in supporting this demand.

Complexities of industry game rules, where devices are now closely linked to applications and many operator business models still charge users based on online duration and monthly data allowances, have caused the pipe to become marginalized. The demand for bandwidth and increased diversity in personalized end-user needs means that operators need to deconstruct and abstract pipe capabilities, enabling more services and values, and so finding ways to retain and win over subscribers rather than alienate them.

Technological upgrades have become more sophisticated. To adapt to development needs, vendors need to apply the latest technologies in network devices to achieve a competitive price/performance ratio, keep up with the pace of Moore's Law, and continuously upgrade individual hardware elements. However, it is costly to frequently upgrade large numbers of existing network elements. Therefore, operators need to make the relationship between technologies and devices more abstract and set up flexible mappings.

Huawei believes that addressing these challenges should be guided by a desire for simplicity. It believes that telecom operators’ competitiveness can be enhanced by holistically reshaping the way they manage their network and operations and streamlining basic network architectures to discover the functions that are truly essential. Network architecture has become increasingly complex with networks needing to provide more and more functionality, necessitating an evolutionary overhaul of network architecture as we know it. This evolution is a move towards breaking down complex issues, optimizing resource allocation, and, ultimately, simplification of the entire process.

In order to deliver on its belief in simplicity, Huawei has developed the SoftCOM strategy: a holistic approach to the future of network architecture, addressing operators’ business and technology challenges by focusing on simplification. At the core of this approach lies Huawei’s view that the future of network evolution is in the ability to provide operators with a simple approach to overcoming the challenges brought about by the accelerated changes in the industry landscape.

Huawei SoftCOM is a cloud-based systematic future network architecture that leverages the power of SDN and enhances telecom operators’ competitiveness by transforming network, operations and business. The SoftCOM evolution is underpinned by four key elements:

  • Equipment-Level Cloud-Lization – the decoupling of hardware and software;
  • Network-Level Cloud-Lization – the decoupling of forwarding and controlling;
  • IT System Cloud-Lization – transforming traditional IT infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure; and
  • Internetized Operation – transforming telecom-oriented systems to Internet-oriented systems

Equipment-Level Cloud-Lization

By decoupling software from hardware and abstracting functions, all network device functions will no longer be dictated by individual hardware. Instead, network elements share a unified hardware platform, with resources shared flexibly and functions defined by software. A hardware pool will be established, which automatically supports scalability, realizing flexible and efficient deployment.

Network-Level Cloud-Lization

By decoupling control plane from forward plane and abstracting network resources to separate management from usage, network elements will be centrally managed at the upper layer, ensuring optimized network resource allocation, higher efficiency and simpler software upgrade. This creates a smarter architecture that will make network more agile for transformations. Therefore, a network resource pool will be built up with centralized routing for better experience and higher utilization.

IT System Cloud-Lization

Traditional telecom IT infrastructure needs to be moved to a cloud platform so as to achieve huge capacity at a low cost via elastic computing, distributed storage, parallel applications as well as automatic scalability. Through these, the computing pool and storage pool are constructed to optimize the utilization of IT resources.

Internetized Operation

To provide truly user-centric services, operators need to transform the way they traditionally manage their operations to become more Internet-oriented. This transformation will be realized not only through opening network API to third parties for the development of rich applications, but also through transforming traditional IT infrastructure to a cloud-based IT system built up on a distributed web framework that is capable of providing business intelligence from big data analysis. This will provide end-users with online, self-service propositions on demand.

Huawei understands operators’ business needs and can provide them with the most comprehensive and systematic portfolio of ICT solutions that will enable them to optimize returns on their investments. Based on the SoftCOM evolution, Huawei is poised to help operators achieve business success and reshape the ICT industry. Its ‘Dig In, Widen Out’ strategy will enable operators to reduce costs and create innovative business models with open networks.

“Dig In” brings about network optimization, transforming the existing high CapEx and high OpEx model to a substantially lower TCO model through network abstraction, programmability, control simplicity and management automation, enabled by SDN, NFV and cloud computing technologies.

Huawei SoftCOM will facilitate structural TCO reduction. Through equipment-level cloud-lization, network resources can be flexibly shared and utilization maximized. Networks will become much more scalable, network functions can be defined on-demand and time-to-market of services can be shortened. Through network-level cloud-lization, network capabilities are consolidated in an abstract manner, which will enhance network intelligence.

“Widen Out” brings about network monetization, fundamentally transforming today’s fully controlled, closed and rigid business model to one that is open, new services-enabling and agile. This new model will enable operators to establish key differentiators and new value propositions in the new digital eco-system by leveraging the operator’s key strengths and capabilities, achieved by building a converged cloud platform across distributed data centers and wide area network infrastructure.

By transforming operations to become Internetized, an innovation platform connecting various industries is created, which allows networks to become ubiquitous and provide an avenue through which social and business interactions take place. This will accelerate the development of the ICT industry and network monetization will be maximized through much enhanced network services and extended value propositions in the digital eco-system.

SoftCOM, Huawei’s vision of reshaping the future of network architecture will have significant impact on broadband network, operations and business. Huawei’s cloud-based, end-to-end approach will help operators leverage the power of SDN in enhancing competitiveness and transforming the way they manage their network and operations for business success.

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