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Huawei Goes 'All Cloud'

Mitch Wagner

Huawei this week launched an "All Cloud" strategy designed to unite equipment, networks, services and operations across its service provider, enterprise and consumer lines. The strategy is long on ambition, but short on specifics about implementation and the effect it would have on existing and new products and services.

In other words: It's either a bold new statement of direction from an industry titan. Or vaporware.

All Cloud requires a "full reconstruction" of infrastructure in equipment, networks, services and operations, allowing users to pool hardware resources and make use of a fully distributed, automated software architecture. The network will shift to data-centric architecture, and all network functions, services and applications will run in the cloud, Huawei said in a statement. (See Huawei Unveils Its 'All Cloud' Strategy.)

Huawei notes that it's already heavily invested in cloud data center infrastructure, including compute, storage and switching hardware. These include its FusionSphere cloud operating system, FusionInsight for big data and FusionStage for distributed Platform-as-a-Service.

The All Cloud strategy goes beyond NFV. NFV virtualizes traditional methods for managing software architecture and operations. Huawei wants to do what it calls "Network Functions Cloudification."

Huawei says it will implement its All Cloud strategy across three main customer groups:

  • For carriers, the All Cloud strategy will help providers deliver cloud-based Internet of Things, video and cloud services platforms, as well as agile operations, leveraging SDN and Network Functions Cloudification.

  • Enterprises will use cloud computing, SDN and big data for increased agility and improved operations, moving IT systems to the cloud for resource utilization and improved efficiency.

  • And on the consumer side, Huawei says it will have to deliver branding, quality, user experience and ecosystems. The company says it will have to provide services globally, and build an ecosystem.

    But Heavy Reading analyst Roz Roseboro is skeptical.

    "There wasn't really much new product-wise," she says -- at least not in the data center area, in which she specializes. "It's essentially taking what [Huawei] already did and talking about it all in the context of cloud, rather than just virtualization."

    Huawei has the same types of gear as the other five suppliers Roseboro analyzed for an NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure) report, but is more similar to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise , with a portfolio of products in each domain -- compute, networking and storage -- instead of having unified integrated offerings like Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). And all the companies are actively engaged in open source. (See Bringing NFV Into the Data Center.)

    Equipment vendors are all investing in and aligning around cloud, as their customers move in that direction. In particular, Huawei competitor Cisco is pursuing the cloud aggressively, reorganizing the company around cloud platforms. (See Cisco Builds Its House on the Cloud.)

    Likewise, HPE and Dell are pursuing aggressive cloud strategies.

    But Huawei has a couple of advantages over its competitors. One is sheer scale. In the service provider market alone, it's the largest worldwide. It anticipates combined carrier and enterprise sales could hit $80 billion by 2020. (See Huawei: New King of the CSP Market and Huawei's Carrier/Enterprise Sales Could Hit $80B by 2020.)

    Also, Huawei has the advantage of its strength across the consumer, enterprise and service provider markets. Other networking and computing leaders are strong in one of those areas -- for example, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is powerful in the consumer market but not in the enterprise or service provider sectors. Cisco is strong in the enterprise and service provider markets, but has no consumer presence. Only Huawei can provide the phone in a consumer's pocket, the telco switch to which that phone connects and the enterprise technology powering the business apps that run on the phone.

    Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading's enterprise cloud content channel.

    Huawei's goal of providing a consumer ecosystem hits Apple where it is particularly strong. Apple partners with software and third-party hardware providers to deliver a complete experience. Buy an iPhone, and it works better with a Mac, in a CarPlay-enabled car. Samsung Corp. was able to challenge Apple on handset sales, but it never cracked that ecosystem problem. Huawei has the resources to do better.

    And then Huawei can follow Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s lead in the 90s, back when it was natural for people with Windows PCs at home to deploy the same at work, and vice versa. In that model, Huawei's strengths in consumer and enterprise could reinforce each other, allowing the company to put pressure on service providers to deliver network services that work in the Huawei infrastructure.

    The new cloud focus has the potential to drive Huawei to further advance is industry lead -- if it can back up the vision with product and services specifics.

    — Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading.

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