Kathy Gibson reports from CeBit in Hannover – Huawei has set out a bold new plan to become the new partner of choice driving collaboration and open standards in the new era of ICT.
Yan Lida, president of the Enterprise Business Group at Huawei, took to the stage at CeBit to outline how the Chinese ICT giant sees the future of the technology ecosystem and its own role in it.
“Our position is to provide the technology with open APIs that will enable our partners to develop the applications to meet the needs of end users,” he says. “In this ecosystem we want our customers to be involved as well because they know their business requirements better than anyone else.”
To drive this ecosystem, Huawei is focusing its efforts on developers, partners and standards.
Setting the scene for the future technology landscape, Lida points to the rapid changes and advances in ICT reach and performance.
In 2016, a computer beat a Go champion for the first time. This feat has long been thought to be impossible because the game of Go has so many variables that a brute force search couldn’t hope to succeed against a human brain.
“When the computer beat Gary Kasparov at chess in 1997, it was a single mainframe computer,” says Lida. “Today’s AlphaGo is a cloud computing systems. Lee (the reigning Go chamption) wasn’t playing against one computer, but against thousands of computers.
“This is the power of technology evolution; it is already far beyond the human boundary and it is changing our lives as well as every industry.”
Lida cites the example of Kenya’s public safety authorities who were faced with the prospect of 300 000 people crowding into a 0,12km space for the Pope’s visit. The visit was being co-ordinated by 10 different agencies and 30 sector – and all of these used their own devices and networks.
In the face of this challenge, the public safety systems in Nairobi and Kenya were upgraded.
A visual command centre was established where all resources could be seen on a single map, and all agencies could be co-ordinated from one place.
Using cloud technology, the systems were converged so multiple devices and multiple agencies could be connected, all sharing the same platform.
It was also the first time the eLTE broadband trunking was introduced, giving users voice, video, photos and email communication, whereas the previous system provided voice only.
“During this historic event, there were no injuries and no complaint was received,” Lida says.
He also points to the news media, where time, accuracy and comprehensiveness are important – but network requirements are growing all the time, the video moving to HD then UHD and soon virtual reality may become mainstream.
“This kind of data growth impacts the whole system, from data uploading to programme editing to broadcasting as well.”
Several of China’s leading television stations have deployed a hybrid cloud solution that lets photographers in the field upload footage into the cloud via accelerated WAN. Studios can access the content from the cloud, edit and share it through the same cloud platform.
“There are many lessons we are learning from various industries,” Lida says.
“The first is that ICT is becoming a core part of the production system. For many industries, ICT has been introduced to reshape their production process; and many more are planning to use it.
“In the future all user devices will be equipped with sensors or communication models which will allow them to be connected to the data centre.”
Data centres in the future will have to operate on two levels, he adds. The first will be a realtime business platform to enable online production and realtime collaboration. The other is a big data platform for offline analysis and decision support.
“Data has become a key production element,” Lida says. “From creation to transportation and processing, we believe the new cloud-pipe-device architecture is crucial.”
Innovative technologies are the foundation of this architecture, he adds, with several branches of technology having come to together to create the environment we have now.
“For instance, Internet of Things (IoT) is not something new, but now it has come of age: the cost of the chipset and communication modules are down; the size is smaller and power consumption is such that battery life is up to 50 years. At the same time, if the network hadn’t evolved, there would be no technology to connect billions of devices. And without big data, we wouldn’t be able to process and mine the information. The cloud ties it all together.
“We believe the set of innovative technologies that work together will lay the foundation for this new ICT era.”
Lida stress that ICT is entering a new phase. It has moved from office automation, then to optimising business processes, and has now become a core part of our production systems.
Huawei plans to play a pivotal role in the future development and integration of technology as it becomes more and more a part of every person’s life and every organisation’s operations.
The company is already a major player in the development of technology, investing 10% of its revenue each year into research and development (R&D), to the tune of about $40-billion over the last 10 years.
But Huawei wants to do more than that: “We want to create a platform that can be a foundation of the whole ecosystem,” says Lida.
This platform needs to be open, to create open APIs for cloud, pipe, device and components. “It must allow third party developers to create solutions, and should be flexible to support a range of industries. And it must be elastic.”
Huawei has already embarked on the journey to achieve its goals.
“We offer a hybrid cloud to our customers,” Lida says. “The public cloud and the private cloud are one architecture based on OpenStack, which lets clients migrate applications between clouds. In the future we will enable them to migrate from their private clouds to third part public clouds as well.”
Underpinning the open platform, Huawei has enabled developers through various initiatives; and is actively involved in driving the adoption of international standards.
“Our vision is to lead the new ICT to build a better connected world, together with our partners and the whole ecosystem,” Lida concludes.