WUZHEN, China -- Operations Transformation Summit 2016 -- It may have been Huawei's party, but its star guests weren't afraid to share their opinions of the host.
China Mobile Senior Vice President Li Zhengmao said Huawei needed to "make up its mind." He said he had told Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executives that with the decoupling of hardware and software and the emergence of open source the company would have choose one or the other.
"If you do software your value is much higher than with hardware," he said. With the growth of open source in telecoms, "you don't need to reinvent the wheel. You just add your own things on top."
Li cited the Aero SDN controller designed and now being trialed by the Chinese telco. With virtualization, operators would go to OEMs to have hardware built to their specs, rather than order them from a specialist vendor.
"As long as I have the software the software can run on the hardware," he said. "Huawei should not have the mindset that customers will buy hardware and software together. If you go down this path you may run into problems in ten years or so."
China Telecom Vice President Zhen Jicai, a former chairman of the state-owned vendor Datang Telecom, echoed his point. Because of virtualization, networks were becoming "more open and more generic," he said. Huawei faced the question of whether it "becomes a software integrator or a hardware manufacturer."
Huawei teamed up with China Mobile and China Telecom earlier this year to announce a new industry open source orchestration group called OPEN-O. (See OPEN-O Focused on Orchestrating SDN & NFV.)
Li made his remarks while outlining for the first time the operator's idea for a new telecom network and architecture, which the operator calls Communications 4.0.
"We need to reinvent the network," he said. "'Evolution' is not enough, and neither is 'future.'"
The company has begun building out a test network, called NovoNet, with trials underway in Shanghai, Guangdong and Zhejiang.
He said NovoNet would be built on a new architecture combining SDN and NFV technology, integrating the IT and the network and with a new operations model.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, Light Reading