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Huawei has taken its first steps into the world of intent-based networking (IBN) with the launch of its first network automation proposition, addressing network management pain points across five enterprise scenarios – campus networks, datacentre networks, branch network interconnections, wide area networking (WAN) and network security.
Its product, Huawei Intent-Driven Network (IDN), brings big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to bear on its All-Cloud Network proposition (launched at Mobile World Congress 2017) to support IT and network managers in their day-to-day tasks.
According to Huawei, through service intent understanding, automatic network policy deployment, and continuous optimisation, IDN will provide the “ultimate experience” for every network user in each application at every moment, “building an intelligent, simplified, ultra-broadband, secure and open digital network platform for enterprises”.
Speaking to Computer Weekly in Shenzhen ahead of the formal launch, Wei Feng, chief marketing officer of Huawei's network product line, compared the introduction of IBN in an enterprise to the introduction of more advanced medical diagnostics equipment in a hospital.
“Before, it [network management] was a very manual task, but manually identifying problems was not always possible, especially when it came to complex issues, because it’s hard to have a holistic view of the network,” he said.
“Now we can do proactive management, the system can identify problems humans couldn’t in the past – comprehensive issues that affect the whole network but were difficult to spot can be located and addressed easily, like a doctor facilitating a scan.”
Huawei also announced it is teaming up with Ping An Technology, the in-house fintech operation of the Ping An Group, a locally based insurance and financial services house, to work together to drive IBN into the world of financial technology (fintech).
Ping An is already a major Huawei software-defined networking (SDN) customer, and has been using a Huawei SD-WAN intent-driven interconnection leased line to launch an artificial intelligence (AI) customer service, matching customer biometrics with its database to remotely verify user information.
Ping An said this solved a number of pain points traditionally encountered in insurance, such as slow authentication and delays to claim settlement.
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“We will leverage more diversified intent-driven network joint innovation practices to accelerate the digital transformation of the finance industry and lay a solid foundation for implementing the business strategies for Ping An Cloud, and our smart city services,” said Pin An Technology CTO, William Fang.
Other suppliers, such as Cisco, have been ramping up their own IBN propositions in recent months. While Wei did not directly address his main competitor in the West, he said Huawei had some competitive edges to draw on.
“We are very familiar with operators, we know their pain points and requirements. We can better help our customers in identifying network issues through providing real-time and higher resolution equipment data. As Huawei is strong on the equipment side, therefore we're able to provide higher resolution equipment data and also at a higher reporting frequency,” he said. “By combining those two, we believe Huawei is in a better position.”
Wei said Huawei saw the biggest benefit from IBN for enterprises would be found around operational efficiencies. As the technology improves, generates more data, and learns more about the network, predictive maintenance will become easier and IT staff will be freer to concentrate on more innovative projects, rather than firefighting, ultimately fulfilling their enterprise digitisation goals.