Cover Story
Exploring the Cloud2.0 Era and Transplanting the Technology Gene

The mastery is in handler, not the implement.

These eight words are engraved on Jin Yong's novel The Return of the Condor Heroes in which Yang Guo, after having broken his arm to get it, finally obtains to the heavy sword technique. Yang uses his newfound enlightenment and masterly-crafted heavy sword to finally defeat Jinlun Guoshi to become a legendary warrior-king.

Unwieldy to the onlooker, the heavy sword in this story resembles the fabled Excalibur of Western legends, with Yang Guo assuming the role of King Arthur – the contemporary hero king whom all kings looked up to. The sword never changed, it was just waiting for the right person to harness its powers. Its properties didn't change. It was crafted for a reason – the sword was waiting for the right vehicle with the right qualities to unleash its capabilities.

Swordplay takes decades to master. At the end of the first decade, the sword is sharp and the user nimble. Advancing into next decade, swordplay becomes highly controlled, and a master with 30 years of skill accumulation is nearly impossible to defeat. This process is the sculpting that heroes must go through as they keep with their passion and learn complete control over their craft. Investments on the frontend forge the rewards on the backend.

Some people may be asking why HUAWEI CLOUD has already made the top five in cloud service providers after being placed online not long ago and how it can position itself as a leader in the cloud computing market. The rise is similar to the story, in which years of preparation, accumulation, and dedication presented the perfect combination to wield a new pillar in tech: cloud. Enter the hero of the cloud era: HUAWEI CLOUD with its 'broad sword' of innovation.

HUAWEI CLOUD has plenty of talent stacking up behind it, benefiting from the 30-plus years of technical accumulation of the parent company. The cloud service is set to blossom as it takes the stage with many new innovations.

The Tech that Makes HUAWEI CLOUD 

Zhang Yuxin joined Huawei in 1999 when he started to work in the frontlines of R&D. In the 20 years, Zhang says it is still the same in essence as it was decades ago: dedicated to customer success and daring to invest. Mr. Zhang, now CTO of the HUAWEI CLOUD BU, states, "In fact, more than a decade ago, Huawei established a comprehensive R&D system. At that time, we established the belief – the way of serving customers and our business boundaries and principles." This belief means the company abides by business boundaries, focuses on performing well in its core competencies, manages technologies and R&D processes through a complete technical management system, and stays in tune with the market to quickly respond to customer requirements.

Bruno Zhang, CTO of HUAWEI CLOUD BU

Zhang explained: What does Huawei mean by business boundaries and invest boldly in R&D? It means we focus on R&D efforts and achieve a leading position in our established directions. So, at the time years ago, we didn't give into the temptation to explore the Personal Handy-phone System (PHS), and focused our priorities on achieving 3G viability and becoming number one in the world. This focus is what made us what we are today.

Zhang then continued to explain the 'dare to invest in the future' slogan commonly used at Huawei. He said that the R&D system has a three-stage strategy: collect, develop, plan for the future. This sets the tone for the long-term mentality in investing and accumulating technologies. In one example of this commitment, way back in 1996, Huawei started to research and develop its own chips as part of its long-term investment strategy. Towards the end of the 90s and into the new millennium, Huawei also took up long-term investments in operating systems, databases, and many other underlying elements that go into the end-to-end mix. These moves are what give HUAWEI CLOUD the unique capability to provide full-stack cloud services, starting from chips and working all the way up to higher-order equipment. 

Zhang continued:

Huawei has always stuck to its strategy in R&D. We refer to it loosely as our big platform, small products strategy. This means we need to build up basic technologies that can be shared across our business groups to the greatest extent possible because the time needed to build basic competencies is long and involves copious amounts of professional inputs. If these basic technologies are built and shared within the company, all this energy will not be wasted and the capabilities of all products can be brought up quickly. Looking back, albeit somewhat inadvertently, we set ourselves up with the perfect positioning to enter the cloud arena. We were focused on developing broad-reaching tech, and that is what the cloud market is all about.

Huawei has always adhered to these principles and success has always followed its focused commitments. The research and development of these basic technologies are treasures that may stay in the storehouse until called upon, but once these technologies come into use, their value comes into play. Huawei invests and develops first then finds a way to tap the basic tech with post-developments to suit the product/technical field. Understanding how much Huawei puts into each effort and how it accumulates what is necessary to make breakthroughs will help you know how it got to where it is in cloud services.

In 2008, Huawei started to invest heavily in computing, storage, and network to form its systematic approach to R&D. The company did not make this move in preparation for entry into the enterprise business three years later, it did so because it was daring to invest in the future in line with its basic guiding principles. Happenstance or was it because everything comes into place when you got the right core values and policies? Zhang Yuxin gave his perception:

Amazon and Google had already formed the concept of public cloud back in 2008. Huawei, conditioned to thinking about the future for customers, started to think about how to apply this concept to the carrier market as that was the then lion share of the focus. Huawei realized it did not have the complete capabilities to deliver the concept, thus it embarked into the basic research of the IT needed to make it happen.

According to the three-stage strategy in R&D, Huawei invests in the technical reserves first to collect what is needed for the entire interoperable portfolio. For example, Huawei Symantec Technologies was established in 2007 to focus on the storage industry. Huawei dived into servers even earlier than that.

Therefore, the logic is clear. Although Huawei decided to enter the enterprise business in 2011, Huawei's reserve for IT infrastructure can be traced back to before 2007. HUAWEI CLOUD benefits from these long-term investments into basic technology with the thirty-years of expertise in ICT of its parent company.

Everything Changed in 2011

2011 was a year to be remembered for Huawei.

In 2011, Huawei expanded its offerings, extending into the enterprise business and establishing the Enterprise BG.

Su Liqing, Director of Infrastructure Engineering Dept.

There is a backstory to all this though. That is, there were plenty of preparation and builds to get ready for this move, which would also ultimately fuel the cloud transformation of 2012. At that time, Su Liqing just took over as head of the IT department at Huawei. The transformation was both pain and joy for Su Liqing, who is now the Director of the Infrastructure Engineering Department under Cloud BU.

Because Huawei's business layout is a global one, the core of Huawei is R&D assets. However, the global lab layout was plagued by information silo after information silo. Therefore, for Huawei IT, the first challenge was enacting a cloud adoption to break free from the originally constricting architecture of the lab operations. Su Liqing said, "This process was very painful because it meant that the overall IT architecture of Huawei needed to be changed, including the security isolation architecture, which had to be resolved with each business department and for each use case."

What metrics can be used to measure the effectiveness that a cloud profile has on R&D operations? The biggest and most obvious is the ability to reduce costs. The cloud powering Huawei's business applications is one of the world's largest enterprise-class applications. In 2012, among Huawei's employees, about 80,000 were R&D personnel working in more than 1,500 labs around the world. These labs built some computing capabilities, including simulation, compilation, and antivirus, but these resources were scattered, bogged down with low utilization efficiency, and were difficult to manage. Therefore, Huawei decided to cloudify its internal IT capabilities.

Su Liqing commented: "The budget for building the global IT infrastructure for one of those years of build out exceeded $200 million USD. After we completed the cloudification of global resources, only half of the budget was spent. We called the build the R&D Cloud, which improved resource utilization by more than 2.5 times. Generally, the CPU usage of enterprise IT servers is less than 20%, while Huawei's CPU usage can reach 70%."

In fact, we can see that Huawei uses internal IT to save resources. However, the greater benefits brought by cloud are the improvement of Huawei's business efficiency. After resources are concentrated, the computing capability is greatly improved. The original R&D efficiency is doubled. Using a platform project with more than one-hundred million lines of code is used as an example, the iteration period for these types of big projects was nine months. After going to the cloud, it soon turned into six months, and now it has been shortened to three months. Take the product R&D of the consumer business as an example. The launch time has been determined at the beginning of the project, but improved R&D efficiencies means increased frequency in mobile phone iterations is possible, which reduces bugs and improves the quality.

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Construction on Songshan Lake Data Center in Dongguan completed in July of 2016. 

The success of the EDC migration demonstrated Huawei's all-cloud distributed data center blueprint was ready for customer adoption.

Su Liqing remembers clearly all the affirmations received from business departments. He recalls that after the Huawei Chengdu Lab went live on the cloud, Sun Cheng, the then-director of Chengdu Research Center, ceremoniously cut the ribbon to the lab, saying, "The labs in the past were closed off. To ensure security, personnel must use access cards to enter and exit the labs. After the labs are moved to the cloud, the lab becomes open. Because data is on the cloud, security and efficiency are greatly improved."

The Cloud BU is Born

Huawei was a relative latecomer to public cloud. The birth of HUAWEI CLOUD BU came about from a redefinition of Huawei's business boundaries.

Huawei has always held to the principle that it will not enter the telecom service field because Huawei will not compete with its customers. Therefore, while Huawei has mature tech in private cloud, it has kept a certain distance from the public cloud. Huawei entered the public cloud market only after carriers requested the offering be made available so they could then offer such services to their own customers.

At the same time, carriers also needed to cloudify their networks. They needed to implement agile service provisioning and fast iteration of applications to compete with Internet-based vendors. To help them achieve these goals, Huawei introduced cloud technologies to transform the telecom network architecture. 

Another important reason was the attraction of the cloud market for enterprises. Yet, public cloud was mainly oriented to Internet applications in the beginning, which are not Huawei's expertise and beyond the company's service boundaries. However, in 2016, Huawei picked up on the trends in enterprise cloudification and made it an important target market.

Cloud 2.0 dominated by enterprise applications

More and more industries, enterprises, and public agencies are migrating to the cloud. This is precisely why Huawei distinguishes between Cloud 1.0 and Cloud 2.0. Huawei's definition of Cloud 1.0 is dominated by native cloud applications and Internet companies. Cloud 2.0 is dominated by enterprise applications. More and more industries, enterprises, and public agencies are migrating to the cloud.

Huawei was also facing many problems in its own global operations. It became engaged in the consumer business in 2011, requiring a cloud platform like iCloud. In another aspect, Huawei's global data center architecture also needed to rent other public clouds. So, we had to ask why we were not running these operations on our own cloud.

In fact, Huawei did not embark on public cloud in 2017. Zhang Yuxin said that Huawei and Deutsche Telekom (DT) had piloted Open Telekom Cloud in 2015 before the Cloud BU was set up. This model is called 'partner cloud', which is operated by DT as a whole set of cloud products and solutions. This build is considered Huawei's first trial in the public cloud.

Huawei did not expect that the partner cloud would attract so much attention from its carrier customer around the world. Zhang Yuxin commented, "If Huawei didn't support the efforts, then who would serve our carrier customers? So, we set up the HUAWEI CLOUD BU in 2017."

Release party for the Cloud Ecosystem Changsha Declaration

In March 2017, Huawei partnered with Taiji, SinoSoft, Digital China, YonYou, iFLYTEK, and ChinaSoft International to jointly release the Cloud Ecosystem Changsha Declaration, and announced the establishment of the Cloud BU.

30+ Years of Accumulation Yields Most Complete Tech/Cloud Profile

HUAWEI CLOUD has accelerated its global cloud layout with centers opening around the world – outpacing other public cloud vendors in scale of build. For example, Huawei opened its South Africa region in 2018, which is the first node in the region to be opened by any provider. This is different from the global layout of many public clouds. Each node added to the HUAWEI CLOUD layout outside China helps to solidify its position. Su Liqing had the following to say:

HUAWEI CLOUD has developed rapidly. This year alone, we opened centers in Thailand, Russia, South Africa, and Hong Kong. Huawei had plenty of practice when it comes to building data centers with accumulation in business processes and IT. Huawei has developed a global network featuring impressive reliability backed by decades of proven expertise in builds and into day-two operations and maintenance.

On November 15, HUAWEI CLOUD announced opening of its South Africa Region during Africa Com 2018

These high-value accumulations have been wrapped into the services HUAWEI CLOUD offers. HUAWEI CLOUD has inherited all the capabilities in global data center operation, network operation, management capabilities accumulated in processes and IT systems, and system operations. Mr. Su added:

2000 was an important year in data center build-out for Huawei, when its globalization strategy came into swing. Huawei had already achieved a rather strong presence worldwide by that time, with operations in more than 170 countries and regions. We had a sort of slogan everyone would say, which as 'Wherever Huawei employees go, we build IT'.

In this global data center layout, Huawei boasts eight cloud service centers able to keep response down to the 100-millisecond range and featuring fast application deployment capabilities – delivering a uniform experience across the scope of the global system. HUAWEI CLOUD is the only provider that can claim global coverage. It has achieved this because it has continuously invested in builds.

At Huawei Connect 2018 held in Shanghai on October 12 of 2018, journalists asked about the impressive global presence of HUAWEI CLOUD. Zheng Yelai, Huawei VP and President of the Cloud BU, answered with some humor, "We navigate the 'seven-seas' all day, every day. We are everywhere, thanks to the decades of development that Huawei underwent and the established presence in 170 countries and regions around the world. More than half of the To B business revenue comes from markets outside China. The advantages of the globalized Huawei are naturally inherited by HUAWEI CLOUD."

Zheng Yelai, Vice President of Huawei and President of HUAWEI CLOUD BU delivering a speech at Huawei Connect 2018

In an interview from the People's Daily, Zheng Yelai added, "The cloud service itself has no boundaries. The key to the deployment of cloud services outside China is to achieve both globalization and localization. Globalization means establishment of a global network to provide customers with various low-latency and high-reliability cloud services. Localization means compliance with local laws and regulations and regulatory requirements to adapt to the market environment." Huawei has a full understanding of the China and international market.

Enterprises Benefit from the 30+ Years of IT Accumulation

Enterprise customers get more than just the resources and services they need when choosing HUAWEI CLOUD, they can also avail themselves of the rich experience in implementing IT architecture changes and IT evolutions.  

In the three phases of Huawei's R&D, the initial model is a software-driven IT product architecture running ERP and CRM software. The infrastructure must comply with the constraints of the software package architecture to implement evolutions. The second stage is the concept of private cloud, which was able to significantly improve resource efficiency with the decoupling of IT and applications.  

The third phase is the public cloud phase, or the multi-cloud architecture. This phase means that the IT infrastructure is mainly provided by public cloud service providers. The focus of enterprise IT is to improve service efficiency and focus on the digital transformation efforts at the enterprise.  

These three phases now co-exist. Enterprise can choose what they want. If they want equipment, we give it to them. If they want their own cloud, we can do that too. If they want a mix, we got that too. We are constantly improving on each offering as we frequently think about what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong and continue to invest into technological accumulation. We integrate all this into HUAWEI CLOUD. We are fully confident of our future as we continue to grow with our customers.  

Huawei's global supply chain has built a visualized microservice-based platform featuring high levels of automation. Huawei delivers about one million base stations every year and has grafted in AI to improve acceptance processes. Su Liqing said: "Huawei's businesses are complex, but everything runs on HUAWEI CLOUD, including consumer, R&D, supply chain, and manufacturing services. This means we can draw on our own experience in running all these aspects of our business and showcase that for enterprises in their own digital transformations. We demonstrate the viability of our offerings in our own global operations."

In another example, Huawei designed a ROMA platform for enterprise data integration, application integration, and message integration that runs in the enterprise service bus (ESB). Huawei has transformed it into an automated integration platform. For IoT that must integrate different vendors, designs, and technologies, the ROMA platform produces the best results. Mr. Su commented: "This is a typical solution that Huawei can tune to the needs of enterprises. The capabilities of the ROMA platform have been added to the HUAWEI CLOUD."

Enterprise services are diversified, which means they have different requirements when it comes to the cloud. HUAWEI CLOUD not only provides resource-based services, but also enables enterprises to apply and implement services in complex environments.

What Makes the Full-Stack of HUAWEI CLOUD Different?

Huawei launched its Ascend 310 and 910 artificial intelligence chips at Huawei Connect 2018. These chips can be used across the entire scope of cloud, edge, and device. Huawei, usually keeping pretty quiet in terms of its chip development, suddenly burst into the spotlight with its AI chips. Zhang Yuxin had this to say:

Huawei's launch was big news for the industry. We started to invest in the AI chip in 2016, but we had been investing heavily in chips for years before that. For example, the SD100 iNIC released during Huawei Connect took five years from design to mass production. This is one difference between the full stack of HUAWEI CLOUD and those of other cloud computing companies. As the underlying support of the 'full stack', the chip technology is one of the key points and Huawei is the only one able to home grow its own chips, systems, software, and everything else.

Release of Ascend 310 chip at Huawei Connect 2018

The full stack of HUAWEI CLOUD includes chips, chip enablement, training and reasoning frameworks, and application enablement. Through HUAWEI CLOUD, enterprises can find all the required services they need and not limit themselves to piecing together this and that hardware, software, and algorithm. Huawei masks all the underlying tech and provides everything customers need in as-a-service packaging, including a full catalog of AI.

Release of ModelArts at Huawei Connect 2018

HUAWEI CLOUD released the AI full-process development platform ModelArts in its Enterprise Intelligence suite. ModelArts provide users with a faster AI development experience. Recently, Stanford University released the latest DAWNBench test results for the Huawei platform with parameters set to ResNet50-on-ImageNet; 93% or above. HUAWEI CLOUD EI ModelArts ranked No. 1 in the world.  

In Zhang Yuxin's view: "Huawei's full stack includes the complete technical accumulation amassed over the past 30 years. We accumulated capabilities in software and hardware integration with our focus on the carrier business in the past. We always held to the reasoning that software capabilities will focus on architecture and algorithm, while hardware capabilities will focus on architecture and chips. In this sense, the essence of our business has not changed – we just added a cloud arm. Huawei has grasped the most basic core values of architecture, algorithms, and chips, and the cloud service platform is the vehicle that carries it all." 

This understanding is impressive. In Internet, the full stack does not mean much to end users because they cannot perceive it nor do they need to. However, in the enterprise cloud, customers need to see the tangibles, such as the data centers and compute, storage, and network resources. They also need to know the soft resources are there, things like O&M and security assurance. Full-stack capabilities become meaningful to enterprises because they have these concerns. Customers need to see the capabilities of each service provider, including product capabilities, solution capabilities, and O&M capabilities. 

In addition to the technical line providing the industry unique full-stack capabilities starting from chips, the horizontal capabilities are also impressive. Zhang explained that the full-stack service runs through the entire enterprise business process. The value is dispersed throughout the entire enterprise with the capability to help them solve any unexpected problems in the entire life cycle of their enterprise applications.

Huawei has invested in basic technologies, future-oriented technologies, and customer-centric technologies over the long haul. It has been able to integrate computing, storage, and network technologies while accumulating a large number of algorithms, chips, and software and hardware capabilities. All these capabilities have sharpened the benchmark services and products of HUAWEI CLOUD, including high-performance cloud infrastructure services, the enterprise intelligence suite, and developer-oriented DevCloud services. Huawei has accrued years of practice in compliance and global top security authentication services in addition to database services.  

The above details of HUAWEI CLOUD coming into being embody the idea of mastering the sword and the years of need accumulation as mentioned at the start of this piece. HUAWEI CLOUD does not seek to viciously competing with peers because it is focused on keeping its efforts directed on what customers need and not on what the competition is doing.  

HUAWEI CLOUD solves customer requirements in the simplest and most direct way possible, inheriting the 30+ years of expertise. Find out how your organization can rise with HUAWEI CLOUD and Grow with Intelligence. 

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