China Unicom, Huawei to work on cloud tech

The cloud platform division of China Unicom signed a strategic cooperation agreement on Software Defined Networking (SDN) innovation with local kit vendor Huawei this week.

In a joint statement, China Unicom Cloud Data Company and Huawei said they will foster extensive cooperation conducted in the field of SDN, developing SDN controllers, and deploying SDN-based solutions in datacentre networks. The strategic cooperation aims to explore SDN technology values for scale virtual tenant access, Virtual Machine on-demand deployment and migration, network centralised management, energy saving, and datacentre capability openness.

Last year, spoke to the CTO of Huawei, Sanqi Li, who said SDN and virtualisation would be key parts of the “new digital economy”. He believes that the existing TCO structure for network operators is not sustainable, because opex is still growing.

“We’re looking at the fundamental limit of existing network infrastructure,” he said. “Today’s network architecture is closed, protocol-centric and vertical, fragmented and with software embedded in the network devices.” The devices might be in the network for ten, 15 or even 20 years and all services are best effort with very little differentiation between them, he adds. Networks are over complicated by the continuing presence of two decades’ worth of technology, from TDM to ATM, and frame relay to IP and MPLS.

“These networks are multi-generation and multi-technology, and control is always at the centre of the model. Voice and messaging are all controlled directly by the operator, but this traditional service model cannot be sustained because it’s slow to adapt,” he warns.

A business model that is rigid, slow, and hard to change, can be saved by the core virtualisation expectations of SDN , he said. He characterises the move to this new architecture as a move from closed to open; rather than having a network that scales up, it’s about having one that scales out, across different sectors and verticals, while enabling new network capabilities.

“It’s about stopping the operators from having a controlling mentality and giving them an enabling mentality. Then the telcos’ true capabilities in network, QoS and billing can really come into their own,” Sanqi said.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event.



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