Chinese red bull (Huawei) attracted to Big Data and big network streams

Enterprise IT and networking are closely linked

Comment We get a chance to assess Huawei and its Enterprise IT business with the publication of its 2015 accounts, which show it grew its enterprise IT revenues 44 per cent year-on-year to $4.3bn.

Huawei said its “enterprise business experienced rapid growth in the public safety, finance, transportation, and energy sectors.”

In particular, it says it “achieved explosive growth in FusionStorage, our distributed software-defined storage system that supports classification, encryption, and deduplication.

The system has been widely applied in public cloud data centres, and system capacity ranked first in the industry.”

In prepared remarks, Guo Ping, Huawei's deputy chairman and rotating CEO said... wait a second, hang on: what is a rotating CEO?

Huawei has a board of directors with a chairwoman and three deputy chairmen. The board is Huawei’s decision-making body for corporate strategy and management. To avoid a CEO accumulating too much power the three deputy chairmen take turns to act as the rotating and acting CEO for a tenure of six months. The rotating CEO is the primary owner of the company's operations and crisis management during their tenure.

There is also a supervisory board which is (very) roughly) equivalent to a USA company’s board*.

Back to Guo Ping, who said: “Over the next three to five years, we will concentrate on enhancing connectivity, enabling the development of vertical industries, and redefining network capabilities.”

We've looked at its 2015 annual report in which Huawei said it wanted “to lead the transformation of enterprise IT towards cloud architecture, and the transformation of enterprise networks towards SDN.”

Like any annual report it is full of corporate marketing goodness-speak but there is a lot of information in it giving indications as to Huawei's seriousness and intentions.

We learn Huawei invested 15 per cent of its annual revenue – CNY59.6bn ($9.2bn) – in research and development in 2015, and 79,000 staff were working in R&D. It has some 170,000 employees overall and is fully-owned, it says, by its employees, not outside shareholders.

It has been involved in the construction of more than 660 data centres, which include 255 cloud data centres. There is, it reckons, a one-trillion-dollar market for cloud transformation in enterprise IT. This is a company seeing huge opportunities in front of it.

It sees tremendous growth in video traffic across networks, with more than 70 per cent of today’s traffic being video. Huawei says streaming 360-degree VR movies will involve enormous data streams that could break today’s networks.

The Internet of Things is another opportunity it’s going after, Huawei saying: “Currently, 99 per cent of devices with sensors are not connected to the Internet. Therefore, our top priority will be to enhance connectivity, and Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) is the core technology that will support these massive numbers of connections between things.”

The company is a strong supporter of open industry ecosystems, being, as they are, open doors, and said:

  • As a gold member and board director of the OpenStack Foundation, ranked sixth in commits during the development of the OpenStack Liberty release
  • Was ranked third in the Hadoop community and fourth in the Spark community in 2015
  • Thinks its open source Astro project will drive the promotion of Spark
  • Is a platinum member of The Linux Foundation

Here's a trio of storage snippets from its 2015 activities:

  • Huawei launched the ES3000 NVMe SSD based on its proprietary controller chips
  • Developed the industry's first user-mode, non-volatile memory-based file system
  • Devised a non-volatile memory-based key-value system

The performance of the non-volatile file system and key:value system was in the tens of millions of IOPS area.

Huawei is patiently knocking on the USA domestic market’s door. Assessing its size and influence based on its US market presence alone would be a mistake. This Chinese red bull is only going to get bigger and stronger. ®

* The main roles and responsibilities of Huawei’s Supervisory Board include overseeing the company’s financial and operational performance, monitoring the responsibility fulfilment of Board of Directors (BOD) members and senior management, plus the standardisation of BOD operations.

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