Steve Saunders: You recently announced the all-cloud network. How has it been received? (See Huawei Unveils Its 'All-Cloud' Pitch .)
David Wang: People have been talking about cloud for a while, but we think we're now at a point in the industry where cloud will reshape everything. That's why we have released our entire end-to-end all-cloud network solution. Of course we've made cloud announcements in the past, but they've tended to be a bit more generic. This is different; it's a concrete solution that will show all of our customers, our partners -- our ecosystem -- exactly how we will build this kind of a cloud-based network.
In the past few years we've heard a lot of people talk at a high level about cloud functionality and services, but mostly that's all it has been: talk. There hasn't been the detail on how to really apply it in the network in a way that drives commercial results for the customer, regardless of which telecom operator delivers it.
SS: Well, today the operators can't get at the commercial application because the technology itself is so complicated and there's no interoperability. It's a total mess. To me that's why this is such a significant announcement from Huawei: because companies need to come forward -- in this case, it's you guys -- and say, we will make this simpler, or usable, by providing you with the whole solution. Originally, everybody thought, well, that's the last thing service providers are ever going to want. But today we have the major service providers saying, "if it's this complicated to get products from different companies to work together then actually, yeah, we would like a single solution, thank you." Of course, the one area of the network where I think the service providers will absolutely insist on having multiple vendors providing solutions is in the services, the applications that run over the network infrastructure. And making that interoperability a reality is very challenging.
DW: We're pushing hard for exactly that. We don't think one vendor will dominate everything. That would represent a lock-in for both operators and enterprises; nobody wants that.
My last job at Huawei was in the wireless business, and there you see all of the key players working together on new technology no matter what their commercial differences and agendas -- Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung… but also AT&T and Vodafone. A lot of companies are coming together, in a democratic sense, and voting, and the efficiency in developing new tech which works together is actually very high.
Every ten years we define a new generation, a new release, of wireless. From 3G to 4G to 5G. But now look at SDN/NFV. This is not developed in a peer-to-peer way. It's not a fair environment. We don't think the IT principle of developing technology can be applied to the telecom world.
So in the telecom world we follow the 3GPP wireless kind of model, a fair model. In the IT world you can in theory build everything on your own platform. But if you want that platform to work in telecom you need to eventually tackle interoperability. You absolutely have to think about the future. You cannot be in a situation as a service provider where you have to renew your infrastructure every two weeks, which is what the IT guys or the OTT guys do…
SS: Well, they seem to enjoy it.
DW: They really do enjoy it.
SS: It's like a hobby for them.
DW: Yeah. It is.
SS: Service providers hate that [general hilarity round the table]. So it doesn't work at all in the service provider world. Don't you feel like we need standards for all of this?
Next page: The business case