A roadmap for operators in the 5G and cloud era
As we look to the future, what kind of network do operators need to build to support the network requirements of the 5G and cloud?
Three challenges for operators
Transforming the structural problems of telecom networks requires innovation in system architecture. Operators' existing network architecture has generally failed to support the development needs of future services. In particular, with service development models increasingly focused on user experience, telecom networks will only be able to meet service needs by fully switching to a future network architecture that’s driven by user experience.
In 2018, Huawei released its Intent-Driven Network (IDN) solution based on this goal. The solution enables operators to evolve from legacy networks to a target network architecture that’s user-centric by building a digital twin that bridges the physical network and business intentions, and is driven by user business logic and service strategy intentions.
Working with customers
To build networks that are intelligent, simplified, ultra-broadband, open and secure, Huawei launched a series of IDN-based joint innovations with leading global operators and enterprise customers, exploring the solutions using the innovative NetCity model and implementing DevOps. The value of IDN has been gradually verified on live networks, further accelerating the progress of IDN innovation.
NetCity is a joint innovation mechanism based on the IDN concept. In NetCity projects, Huawei collaborates with world-leading operators and enterprises/industry customers to implement fast closed-loop technology innovation and business innovation through joint business design, defining use cases, DevOps iterative development, and local lab verification.
At Mobile World Congress 2018, Swisscom and Huawei jointly signed strategic cooperation MoU for the NetCity project, committing to jointly build a world-leading, highly reliable next-gen network infrastructure to provide new communication network services and the best user experience for Swiss users.
At Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2018 in April, Ping An Technology and Huawei signed a joint innovation agreement to innovate IDN and promote digital transformation in the financial sector.
In May 2018, China Mobile Beijing and Huawei signed a MoU covering big video and a premium network in Shenzhen. China Mobile Beijing will build competitive strengths in future-oriented networks based on Huawei's innovative quality broadband solutions, and gradually evolve towards IDN.
In October 2018, during HUAWEI CONNECT, Huawei and China Merchants Bank (CMB) announced plans to reconstruct the bank's data plane, operation plane, and O&M plane through joint innovation. This will help CMB carry out digital transformation and drive retail 3.0.
By the end of 2018, Huawei had cooperated with world-leading customers to launch 25 NetCity innovation projects covering multiple application scenarios, including premium broadband, 5G transport, IP metropolitan area, optical transmission, data centers, and enterprise campuses. In total, 61 commercial use cases have been incubated.
During joint innovation with customers, Huawei iteratively upgrades IDN to better support global customers' network development needs. In the operator sphere, Huawei upgraded its telecoms-oriented IDN solution in September 2018, and proposed a two-wheel drive strategy to span the digital and physical worlds and speed up the progress of IDN innovation. The solution has three core benefits:
Intelligent Network Brain
Achieving user-centric operations by building a digital twin for the physical network. Based on telemetry technology, NCE enables the real-time collection of physical network data, and constructs a digital twin for the end-to-end physical network. This supports real-time perception of the physical network and the playback of physical network historical states, allowing operators to implement user intention-based predictive network operations.
Full-lifecycle closed-loop management using digital twins. NCE harnesses the digital twin to integrate previously fragmented, discrete network data. It enables closed-loop, automated and smart management covering digital planning and design, simulated and visual assessments, automated physical deployment, and continuous authentication. This supports full-lifecycle closed-loop operations for end-to-end networks.
Exclusive Design Studio forms a programmable platform that accelerates network service innovation and IT integration. As part of NCE, we launched the innovative Design Studio open platform to support network programming. The platform integrates operators' strengths in network operation experience as well as manufacturers' strengths in product innovation, shortening the service innovation cycle. NCE is based on an open north-south interface – it can already connect with seven mainstream cloud platforms and has passed the integration and testing certification of over 40 industry partners.
Building use cases service models based on service scenarios to drive business closed-loops. Aimed at different operator service scenarios, the NCE has a service-centric service model for different business scenarios and use cases. We’ve also launched a series of scenario solutions through joint innovation and verification incubation with customers.
Network and service separation
Compared to OTT companies' simplified network architecture and automated service delivery, the problems plaguing traditional carrier networks, such as complex architectures and low service delivery efficiency, are especially striking. The main issue is that carrier networks are coupled with services. Service changes necessitate network changes. This leads to problems such as low network efficiency.
Huawei IDN builds a stable and reliable network bearer layer and an agile network service layer. This helps operators to separate the network from services and innovate system architecture.
The network service layer provides a barbell-type architecture that enables business automation. Layered decoupling of the network improves service agility and unifies cloud and service side access models, creating a foundation for network automation, and drives the on-demand smooth evolution of the service layer BRAS, ultimately enabling full cloudification.
Dealing with traffic surges
In optical networks, Huawei has doubled the capacity of optical network equipment every three years using innovative technologies including oDSP chips, silicon photonics, and Super C spectrum. It released the industry’s first commercial OXC (all-optical switching) equipment, which has already been widely commercially adopted.
In the IP field, Huawei has doubled the capacity of router equipment every two years with innovative technologies like NP chips, and cable backplanes, reducing the cost per bit.
Developing IDN is a process of continual evolution, and it’s the road that must be taken before we arrive at autonomous driving networking. Looking to the future, Huawei will work with global partners to accelerate the progress of IDN innovation, promote the mature rollout of the IDN industry, and jointly build a fully connected, intelligent world.