Huawei (News - Alert) announced recently that a demonstration of its Cloudified VoLTE service to be offered through China Mobile (News - Alert) was successful. The service incorporated network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) technology.
Shenzhen, China-based Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. develops telecommunications and networking hardware and solutions for providers and large enterprises. It also develops mobile devices for the consumer market.
China Mobile Limited is a Hong Kong-based state-owned enterprise (SOE) of the Chinese government that is also publicly traded on different exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange. It is a mobile telecom provider for the Mainland and Hong Kong, and a large one at that. According to the company’s website, it has more than 197,000 employees and has a customer base of 767 million, more than double the U.S. population.
If you could describe the architecture of the Cloudified VoLTE service in one word, that word would be virtualization. The IP media subsystem, policy and rules management, and subscriber data management are all virtualized, each an example of NFV.
With more than three quarters of a billion subscribers, China Mobile has many challenges relating to user volume that most telecoms do not face. If its user base was to increase or decrease suddenly by only one percent, nearly eight million users would be impacted.
Such a large fluctuation cannot be handled efficiently with a hardware-intensive architecture. Virtualization is much faster and costs a lot less in upfront and labor costs than installing or removing physical hardware devices as demand changes. It allows for easier rules and policy management and makes it possible to control functionality through programming instead of configuring individual devices.
As a major player in a global economy, China needs to deploy VoLTE quickly on a large scale, or it may find itself at a disadvantage to its competitors. The work that Huawei and China Mobile are currently performing should help. It also makes a good case study for other telecoms. Large scale fluctuations in the user base are what a cloud provider boasting about scalability must provide. Virtualization is better equipped to deliver scalability than the old way.