During the last decade, the telecom industry has deliberated about carriers’ digital transformation

Despite the rise of cloud computing, big data, AI, and other new technology and applications, carriers are still fighting to avoid being viewed as little more than data pipelines and being ignored. While addressing the problems brought on by new services, they are exploring fresh and creative ways to suit the rapidly changing wants of consumers. These developments are anticipated to multiply in the 5G era with the widespread deployment of connected objects.

For carriers, these shifts present both challenges and possibilities. By utilizing their distinctive network resources, they might take advantage of chances to develop cloud-network convergence offerings. In addition, they can offer unique services and expertise to speed up digital transformation across a range of industries, changing from providing ICT services to providing DICT services.

"We believe that industries’ digital transformation leads to the adoption of cloud, which is a major change. In the cloud era, carriers’ IP network is facing more challenges both on connection speed and connection quality," says Steven Zhao, Vice President, Huawei Data Communication Product Line. 

 According to Huawei, IP networks will transition from offering connection services to doing so via an intelligent cloud network. The cloud network serves as a primary carrier for cloud services, while IPv6 Enhanced serves as the technical underpinning that enables traditional networks to transform into intelligent cloud networks.

"On the one hand, multi-cloud interconnection requires cloud access to be as agile as cloud services. That means cloud and network should be scheduled synchronously rather than network being slower than cloud. On the other hand, for key services and core production systems to be on cloud, SLAs of cloud-network must be assured end-to-end to guarantee deterministic experience," Steven Zhao adds.

Key to Accelerating the Digital Transformation Opportunity

New opportunities can be tapped by integration of technologies, infrastructure investments, connectivity and spectrum availability. It is against such a backdrop China Mobile realized that computing and network synergy is critical to carriers’ digital transformation. It proposed the idea of the Computing Force Network (CFN), echoing the computing first network, which has drawn wide attention in the industry with the introduction of China’s strategy of Eastern Data, Western Computing. China Mobile Shanxi is sparing no effort in implementing China Mobile Group’s strategy of deploying cloud-network to strengthen agriculture. 

"By combining our resources and abilities in the areas of connection, computation, and apps, we are quickening the adoption of CFN," says Li Xinlin, Deputy General Manager, Planning Department of China Mobile Communications Group Shanxi Co., Ltd. He adds that the company would continue to push further in order to develop end-to-end capabilities by improving computing power transmission, distribution and one-stop computing-network service.

Huawei’s cutting-edge 5G solutions are being used by China Mobile Shanxi to deliver various kinds of industry services. They are providing premium service experiences with deterministic bandwidth, high stability, and low latency by utilizing SPN-based tenant- and service-level slicing, as well as innovation of industrial solutions.

"We are channelling in third-party computing resources to build a rich cloud ecosystem and enrich services. Meanwhile, we are deploying cloud private network for multi-cloud pre-connection so as to provide industry customers with rich and diversified computing services and access to multiple clouds," adds Li Xinlin.

To provide scenario-specific solutions for our customers from various industries and support their digital transformation, China Mobile Shanxi is fully integrating CFN with 5G, SPN network slicing, edge computing, and other technologies, explains Li Xinlin.

For instance, the largest general hospital in China’s Jinan Province received a smart healthcare solution from China Mobile Shanxi and Huawei previously. The solution is supported by CFN from Huawei, which is supported by three data centres spread over two locations. By doing so, it effectively ensured user experience after medical systems were moved to the cloud. Together with Huawei, China Mobile Shanxi investigated options for the coal mining sector in 2022. 

"Given unique safety requests in the mining industry, we introduced the industrial ring network solution based on SPN. One innovation we made is to have one set of such ring network cover the whole mining area, and deploy SPN in scale," elucidates Li Xinlin.

The Future

Carriers need to concentrate on three areas to enhance cloud network performance fully. First, accelerate the network’s cloud responsiveness in order to combine cloud-network service scheduling. Second, make the most of the network coverage benefits offered by carriers and offer cloud connections with SLA guarantees to enable deterministic cloud-network experiences. Lastly, provide enterprise users with a single-stop subscription to cloud-network products so they can benefit from e-commerce service.

Huawei builds an end-to-end intelligent cloud-network solution that is digital, intelligent, and service-oriented, which further improves the advantages and value of carriers in network resources and helps them provide DICT services that integrate cloud and network. Huawei’s intelligent cloud-network solution consists of three scenarios: 

Cloud build, a hyper-converged computing power production network that supports diversified computing power requirements via the privilege state, implementing lossless data center network technology; 

Cloud connection. The SRv6 cloud path implements cross-domain streamlining, hierarchical network slicing, and on-demand SLA services. It includes five new capabilities: one hop to cloud, one-network wide connection, One-click fast scheduling, one fiber for multiple purposes, and one-stop integrated security. It maximizes the value of carriers’ network resources, gives full play to the complementary advantages of cloud and network, and helps carriers expand their business boundaries of cloud-network.

Cloud access. In this scenario, the private line is extended to LAN. The solution provides LAN+WAN services for enterprise customers, improves carriers’ one-stop services covering cloud, management, and devices, and helps enterprises to have agile cloud access with improved efficiency and user experience. 

In addition, Huawei’s intelligent cloud-network solution provides end-to-end security protection for enterprises during cloud access. Up to now, many carriers have adopted Huawei’s intelligent cloud-network solution to enable digitalization in industries such as government, healthcare, education, finance, mining, port, steel, and electricity.

"As the consumer Internet is upgraded to the industrial Internet, large-scale IPv6 deployment serves as the foundation. In the 5G and cloud era, the digital transformation of various industries is undergoing evolution towards IPv6 Enhanced. Huawei’s intelligent cloud-network solution focuses on SRv6 network programmability, network slicing, deterministic experience, APN6 application awareness and assurance, as well as BRv6 new multicast technologies," says Steven Zhao, Vice President, Huawei Data, Communication Product Line.

Looking ahead, China Mobile Shanxi will continue to work with Huawei and its partners to popularize CFN oriented around network, computing power, and applications. "We envision a future where network and computing power are everywhere, and intelligence is everywhere. By that time, computing power will be easily accessible as a social service, like tap water. You get it with one click. This will inject new forces into digital initiatives of numerous industries, and facilitate economic growth in Shanxi," says Li Xinlin.