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Huawei homes in on Euro biz market

Chinese IT titan spreads its wings

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Comment Step aside server and storage big boys: make space for a new kid on the European enterprise server and storage block. Huawei Enterprise has arrived and is intending to make waves.

Huawei is a Cisco-size Chinese telecommunications and IT supplier. It was founded in 1988 by a small group of entrepreneurs, some with Western education and experience, and the CEO is Zhengfei Ren. Huawei has developed its own core competencies and grown purely organically; there have been no acquisitions. The company has developed and sells a wide range of products, with its own IP extending down to chipset design.

HiSu Silicon, its own chipset company, was established in 2000, and it sells chipsets to other companies as well as using them in-house. There are chips for telephony, handsets, servers, storage and the networking products.

Huawei products

A quick product overview will show that Huawei can be viewed as what you might theoretically get if you combined Cisco networking with HP's servers and storage. It's that sort of large and capable enterprise supplier.

There are enterprise networking products: Quidway switches, AR routers, Eudemon security, WLAN gear, and OptiX DWDM transmission equipment. Huawei also sells enterprise unified communications gear into the telephony market, including IP phones, teleconferencing and interactive voice response systems.

In the server area there is a range of Tecal X86 rackmount servers, including blade servers and chassis. These have Tecal NICs and flash storage. In its OceanStor storage range there are single and dual controller Fibre Channel SAN storage boxes with maximum drive counts ranging from 96 to 1,440 drives that could be solid-state drives (SSDs), FC, SAS or SATA disks. The range topper is the S12300 with two to eight controllers, up to 128 8Gbit/s FC ports or 64 iSCSI 1GbitE ports, and up to 2,760 SSD, FC and SATA drives. This box is in the VMAX, DS8700, VSP category.

On the file side there are unified storage products that can be clustered: the 7PB N8300 with two to six controllers or the 15PB N8500 with four to 16 controllers. Both support FC, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS access.

There are two virtual tape libraries, with deduplication technology developed together with an industry-leading storage partner.

The products include a VIS6000 virtualisation storage gateway - think an IBM SVC kinda box - and cloud storage systems. This storage range wouldn't disgrace a Chinese version of EMC.

There are no Huawei desktop or notebook computers but a MediaPad tablet is being developed, which sports a WiFi dongle and Android.

What we have here is a substantial and well-established server and storage range that is now heading westward. This is no callow startup but a particularly strong and energetic Chinese IT supplier that has set its sights on Europe.

Huawei JVs

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So far Huawei has been known in the storage market through its joint venture with Symantec, Huawei-Symantec. This sells Huawei filer and SAN disk drive arrays and a pure flash storage array, all under the OceanSpace brand. These products are based on Huawei OceanStor hardware.

Huawei has had other joint ventures, such as ones with Amazon and 3Com.

Symantec entered into the JV to gain access to the Chinese market and to learn about appliances, integrated combinations of hardware and software. Huawei entered into it, we think, to gain access to western, particularly North American markets, and to get access to Symantec software.

Huawei Enterprise in Europe

Huawei Enterprise is entering Europe as a sideways expansion from its existing European customer base, which buys its networking and telecommunications products. This means there is little or none of the suspicion that it faces in the USA, a mistrust that has hindered the entry plans of other Chinese suppliers before now. Some El Reg readers will recall the uproar when Huawei supplied "deep packet inspection equipment" to TalkTalk, which slurped a copy of every webpage customers of the ISP visited.

The Chinese firm isn't entering the European server and storage market as an arrogant incumbent or a neophyte startup. This is a large company with a long-term view and it wants to learn from the market and tweak and tune and develop its offerings according to that market's needs. It is going to build a channel operation and channel partners will be hearing messages about Huawei being loyal to its partners and wanting them and it to achieve "victory" in the marketplace. Yes, it does use words like victory.

The company anticipates competition in Europe from Cisco, Avaya and HP. The president for Huawei's Enterprise Business WEU, Mario Fan, says these companies "have been in place for years. We respect their position and way of doing business. They are doing well but the market wants more. Huawei can provide customers with the most comprehensive end-to-end IT solution. The market is large enough to accommodate more [suppliers]. It appears to us to be asking for more. We believe we can find our position."

El Reg thinks Huawei is certainly going to find its position too, and that position will involve it becoming a significant presence. The existing players better get used to there being a new kid on the block. Say hello to Huawei Enterprise; it wants to be around for the long haul. ®

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