5G speeds up in China this year, as manifested in many ways. By June 6, only one year after 5G became commercially available, there had been more than 250,000 5G base stations, 36 million 5G users, and nearly 60 million 5G handsets. It is widely recognized that with 5G driving new infrastructure construction in China, 80% of 5G application scenarios will emerge in vertical industries. It is estimated that there will be 8 billion IoT connections by 2025 in China, 10 times that of 5G subscriptions.
"A CAGR of 3% in the communication infrastructure drove that of 22.6% in the internet industry," said Mr. Xu Ziyang, CEO of ZTE Corporation, in a recent GSMA summit. Each investment in the communications industry can bring about more than five times that in other industries, fully displaying the multiplier effect of digital industries. In addition to pursuing better development, the ICT industry will fully empower traditional industries to accelerate their digital and intelligent transformation, improve cost efficiency, and facilitate agile case, the pain points of public cloud services will soon come to light, such as end-to-end SLA and the low flexibility of full-stack cloud. To lay a firm foundation for the digital transformation of industries, it is necessary to integrate networks with cloud services and finally realize cloud-network synergy.
ZTE has been committed to focusing on value creation and providing scenario-based services that can precisely meet customers' needs. Mr. Xu holds that the key is to identify and address the pain points of industry customers, and accelerate technology iteration accordingly, thereby rising to the uncertainties and helping industry customers seize opportunities in digital economy. ZTE proposes the precision cloud and network integration solution, where cloud on demand and network-cloud synergy are available based on the distributed precision cloud and deterministic precision network. Moreover, with easy O&M, global coordination, and end-to-end intrinsic security, telecom operators can offer more reliable services and better user experience.
Distributed Precision Cloud
Mr. Xu believes that public cloud services may fail to meet the customers' needs, and PaaS may lack flexibility or individuation. To attract industry customers, operators need to focus more precisely on application scenarios of customers, so as to unveil their true pain points, solve problems with differentiated solutions, and create value through precise services to achieve a win-win situation. In terms of operations, differentiated and customized services involve more explorations, including lightweight startup, agile iteration, and low startup costs.
Mr. Xu also highlights the features of the distributed precision cloud. First, homologous technology stack and on-demand menu. The cloud has a JAVA-like compatible TECS Cloud Suite, which enables full-scenario cloud and a cloud-native technology stack, and supports AI, big data, and a dual-core engine. By configuring the required computing power and throughput, enterprises are able to deploy their systems on demand rapidly. Second, low startup cost and agile innovations. The cloud supports infinite expansion and can be deployed with ultra-lightweight startup. For example, the basic embedded edge involves only one single node, and lightweight pool edge can start from 2 nodes. The cloud also enables innovation at one node and replication throughout the network, and supports agile service delivery, cloud agnostic migration, and scale-in/out.
Cloud computing, as a part of IT infrastructure, has been highly recognized in the industry. Operators have been deploying cloud services to meet their needs. Against such a background, ZTE has mapped out the path of evolution from public cloud to precision cloud. Mr. Xu notes that with some changes in the public cloud, we can provide more precise cloud services. First, "addition" on the IaaS layer. That is, to enhance network components by adding the service awareness, traffic offloading, and access mode selection features, and enable hardware acceleration and CDN cloud-network synergy. Second, "deduction" on the PaaS layer. ZTE aims to provide simplified, agile, and basic versions of PaaS service packages to achieve different capability configurations, thereby providing highly customized services for enterprise customers. "Less is more. Too many functions could cause too many compromises and restrictions," Mr. Xu added.
Except for achieving the aforementioned goals, making changes to the public cloud is eventually to assist operators in exploring new business in industry markets.
Deterministic Precision Network
In addition, ZTE deeply understands that the most valuable and differentiated resources of operators are their networks. With deterministic precision networks, operators can make full use of their network resources to achieve network-cloud synergy and deliver elaborate, precise, and sustainable services to industry customers.
As Mr. Xu points out, only in this way can we achieve the best performance of each bit in the network. He compares the operator's network to fertile soil, and some short-term business to a fast-growing tree—it grows fast but consumes so much water and fertilizer that the soil may lose fertility in just a few years. The loss far outweighs the gain. That is why ZTE strives to effectively allocate its resources to provide customized services for different enterprises through precise cloud and network synergy, and build a harmonious ecosystem, where sustainability of the operators' network business can be achieved.
In the precision cloud-network solution, ZTE provides easy O&M, global coordination, and end-to-end intrinsic security. Global coordination, which includes cloud-network synergy, cloud-edge synergy, and edge-edge synergy, enables adjustment and allocation of resources on demand, and cloud agnostic migration and scale-in/out. Easy maintenance allows IT departments to customize and manage the cloud with one click. They can handle complex changes and requests as easily as they do on a private cloud. To achieve intrinsic security, ZTE aims to construct active defense and personalized security networks. By introducing the zero trust architecture, ZTE strives to provide enterprises with ultimate network security, data security, and user safety. ZTE also tailors end-to-end security solutions for different industry customers.
Practice in and outside ZTE
Before proposing the precision cloud-network integration solution, ZTE has grasped the strategic opportunities brought by the extensive deployment of 5G, which drives the development of industry markets. ZTE keeps making improvement in the process of its digital transformation. In addition, the company keeps exploring its 5G application practices in different industry scenarios, and works with operators and industry-leading enterprises to continuously improve its solutions.
According to Mr. Xu, ZTE aims to be an ultimate cloudified company. It has started digital transformation in the R&D field years ago. Currently, ZTE has been upgrading and rebuilding its production system based on precision cloud and network. With such components as the private cloud, public cloud, business middle platform, data middle platform, AI middle platform, and orchestration center, ZTE has built an agile combat module for the front line, thus improving production efficiency, discovering business opportunities, and offering timely services to customers. Moreover, with iCenter, a corporate digital system, ZTE achieves mobile office and paperless office, enabling its employees to work from everywhere, even in customers' offices. Now ZTE aims to use AI technologies for smart online operation to tackle the uncertainties brought by future business.
"In industry-level practices, we have built and customized precision cloud networks together with our partners to improve production efficiency through digitalization," said Mr. Xu. For example, in the education industry, ZTE works with New Oriental to provide education resources beyond the limits of time and space, with an aim to channel the teaching resources to every corner of the country. In the media industry, ZTE joins hands with Xinhua News Agency to realize face-to-face communication through holographic display and set the stage for everyone everywhere. In the manufacturing industry, ZTE teams up with SANY to build all-digital construction sites, aiming to guarantee unceasing machine operation and the highest efficiency. In the healthcare sector, ZTE works with Neusoft Medical to help patients race against time. ZTE also supports SUPCON in ensuring more stable output of quality products.
"In response to such booming 5G commercialization, the precision cloud networks are expected to sustain a harmonious ecosystem and boost business development. ZTE is willing to work with partners from all industries to create a bright future for the digital economy," said Mr. Xu.