Communications service providers across the world have started using the Cloud to transform their operations for greater efficiency, agility and flexibility required to address the market challenges.

Huawei is playing a key role in the cloud transformation of the carriers by offering them extremely relevant products and services that leverage its experience of working with 120 carriers across the world on cloud services. 

Different Collaboration Models 

Several collaboration models have emerged in Huawei’s engagement with different carriers. "We offer flexible cooperation models to carriers, including jointly-operated Cloud, direct purchase and resell. We have a jointly-operated cloud with carriers, we also sell cloud services directly to carriers, and carriers can also resell Huawei Cloud services," said Chen Xuejun, Director of Carrier IT Marketing & Solution Sales Department at Huawei, during an interaction at the Win-Win Conference. 

"The first model is jointly-operated Cloud with carriers. We have developed this model based on cloud services with China Telecom, China Mobile, Orange and Telekom Malaysia, which is developing rapidly. At the same time, carriers can also purchase or resell Huawei Cloud services to government and enterprise customers," Chen Xuejun added. 

Since Huawei has been part of the telecom industry for over three decades, its Huawei Cloud services leverage its deep expertise in telco processes and functions. Its telecom network and business create synergy with Huawei cloud, offering it a significant competitive edge. The carriers are looking to provide new services besides commoditized voice and data services, and it is here that service providers can monetize by offering cloud services along with traditional services. 

Huawei Cloud offers a significant advantage to the telcos over others. "With the pre-integration and optimization that Huawei offers, carriers can provide their government and enterprise customers one-stop services. We can also provide integrated solutions for Cloud, network and security. Huawei can enable carriers to provide private Cloud, private network, and professional services to large government and enterprise customers who wish to purchase such services. In these areas,  Huawei Cloud and Huawei network can create synergy, and contribute to the monetization of telecom networks," explains Chen Xuejun.

The company is also enabling carriers to fast-track the launch of new and innovative services by using  Huawei Cloud to bring down the deployment cycle and Total Time to Market. This allows carriers to quickly launch new innovative services to the market. Further, Huawei can also help carriers to enhance agility by using Huawei Cloud for several operations and maintenance support functions. 

" Huawei Cloud can create synergy with the carriers’ networks, their service systems and operation systems, to accelerate network monetization, enable service innovation, and make their operations more agile," explains Chen Xuejun. 

Realizing the vision of N+ Cloud, S+ Cloud and Operation+ Cloud 

Huawei’s cloud strategy is based on the principle that telecom networks combined with Cloud allow carriers to accelerate the monetization of their telecom services. It is around this philosophy that the company has built the proposition of Network + Cloud, Service + Cloud and Operation + Cloud.

Elaborating on Network + Cloud, Chen Xuejun said, "With Cloud, they [carriers] will be able to provide a one-stop cloud-network solution, integrated solution of cloud-network-security, and private Cloud + private network + private services to large government and enterprise customers. This will allow carriers to accelerate the monetization of their networks."

Chen Xuejun explained the concept of Service + Cloud through an example. He mentioned that Huawei provided a mobile money platform for a customer. While in the beginning, the platform was deployed on top of its servers, but it was later migrated to Huawei Cloud. This brought down the launch of a new service from months to a few days. 

In Africa, Huawei has helped some carriers deploy their mobile wallet platform on Huawei Cloud. The service rollout time was reduced from months to weeks, and resources can now be scaled out in just a few minutes.. Furthermore, its mobile wallet users have already outnumbered its mobile users and the number continues to grow rapidly. The mobile wallet service has thus become its second growth curve. That’s the benefit of Service plus Cloud," says Chen Xuejun.

The third part of the vision is Operation + Cloud, which is the interaction between the operation system of the carrier and the Cloud. In the past, the Operation Support System (OSS) was usually deployed on servers. However, with the acceleration of the cloudification process, many carriers would deploy some part of their OSS on the Cloud to improve their efficiency.

"From the solution perspective, in the cloud-based carrier operation solution, we deploy the CEM (Customer Experience Management) system by using our distributed Huawei Cloud solution. Some lightweight components are deployed on the public Cloud to ensure flexible and agile capacity expansion while sensitive services are deployed on local HCS nodes to achieve high efficiency and security. In this way, the deployment period is shortened, and the 5G package marketing success rate of the business department is increased by 180%, achieving stable service growth," says Chen Xuejun. 

Dialog: Adopting Cloud-First Strategy

A prominent carrier which has been driving cloud transformation is Dialog, which adopted a cloud-first strategy about five years ago. Its strategy focused on three verticals of engineering, IT and enterprise. 

"On the engineering side, we started with the NFV approach. We were building an NFV platform, and then migrating the workloads to that virtual platform. Some of the applications that we are running on NFV today, the small gateways, most of the web services, as well as mission-critical services, the related packet cores and other applications are built on that one," explained Pradeep De Almeida, Group Chief Technology Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC. 

Elaborating on Dialog Axiata’s cloud strategy, Pradeep said that the company started with an on-premise Cloud, combining all the servers and then virtualizing and offering the services as an application. And then, as we go on, we started using the public Cloud as well. If you look at today, we have things like charging gateways, and our data lake is the biggest example. Once we migrate the data lake to the public Cloud, all the analytics and related applications are reporting everything generated on the public Cloud. Also, the new services, new applications, even including apps, are on the public Cloud today.

The third part of the strategy is on the enterprise side. While the data centre was initially started as a physical rack space, the carrier soon used the Cloud for internal on-premise Cloud. Dialog Axiata soon began offering services and now provides public cloud services to enterprise customers, covering infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, application as a service, security as a service, and others. 

Now the company is merging all these, especially the on-premise Cloud, to a single cloud, so whether its engineering workloads, IT workloads, or enterprise workloads are running on a single cloud, which is managed by a single team today.

The carrier used a multi-pronged approach to develop its capabilities leading to the growth of its B2B services. First, the company worked on developing internal resources’ skillsets and recruiting to incorporate new skillsets into the system. 

Choosing the right cloud transformation partner is crucial to the project’s overall success. Commenting on the criteria for identifying the cloud transformation partner, Pradeep De Almeida said, "First, it should scale up because we have to ensure we don’t get limited by the scalability. And also, security is another concern. It should be secure enough for us to depend on it. And also other things like latency and time to market, how fast we can get it sorted out. Those are key criteria that will decide who is the partner that we are going to partner with to take this cloud migration journey forward."

Factors to ensure cloud transformation success

The carriers must have a well-defined strategy in place for cloud transformation success. “It should take future growth into consideration. Secondly, it should be designed to help meet the business objective. “It is crucial to work with a partner with a perfect technological understanding. Carriers should get work done on the strategic, business, and technical level to have a better cloud transformation in the future,” says Chen.

According to Pradeep De Almeida of Dialog, the main factors are people and processes because cloud transformation demands a complete shift in the way one is used to working when compared with migrating to cloud or running cloud services. “The project management also plays a key role. You have to ensure that you clearly define time targets. Then the data governance, there’s a lot of sensitivity around it. You should be clearly aware of what data can be migrated, especially when it comes to the external or the public cloud, what data can be migrated and what cannot be migrated,” says Pradeep De Almeida. 

In the end, carriers must adopt firm strategies for digital transformation so they are in a position to enable the Government and enterprise customers in their digital transformation. “The key to carrier cloud transformation lies in smarter use of the cloud for networks, services, and operations. Huawei Cloud will work with global carriers to transform and open up new growth space,” says Chen Xuejun.