A seismic shift is occurring in the networking world.
Previously, networking viewed distance, speed, data throughput size, and even latency separately. But end users do not see networks in this way; they want an on-demand, real-time and seamless experience. It has created a gap between network design and user expectation.
Huawei is looking to eliminate this gap with its experience-oriented transport network standard and solution. Unveiled at the South Pacific IP GALA 2018 in Bali, Indonesia, it combines Huawei deep expertise, critical lessons from driving new 5G trials, expansive experience in deployment low-latency global networks and addressing the various network challenges around the globe.
Evolving experience expectations
Experience-oriented transport network standard and solution acknowledges that the change in the way we use networks. In the past, networks connected different platforms and operational centers, transporting data to applications and users when needed.
Cloud challenged this view by making corporate platforms more network-centric. “In our region, nearly all operators have turned their core networks from legacy to the cloud. So, during this transition, it means the network structure was changed,” said Hou Wei (pictured), Vice President, Huawei South Pacific Region.
The rapid adoption of new mobile technologies also shaped network evolution. Every country has deployed an LTE network, and most countries are experiencing a rapid increase in LTE users. It is anticipated that the rollout of 5G will change the role of radio access technologies.
Lastly, the proliferation of mobile devices as essential lifestyle devices is impacting networks. Video and gaming experience, the rise of augmented and virtual reality applications in manufacturing and retail, and high social media use that melds real-time video streaming are hogging bandwidths affect transport latency and minimum round-trip times (RTTs). In turn, it is seeing traffic growth outpacing revenue growth, making most operator business models unsustainable.
Redesigning a network to meet the above issues and trends is not simple, especially when many of today’s networks are an accumulation of different layers of technologies deployed over time. Besides, today’s operators need an approach to meet the high-quality user experience, attain visibility of their entire networking topology to improve service quality and operate in a cost-efficient manner.
The 5G factor
Another oncoming challenge will be 5G. At fast broadband speeds, the new radio access technology will change the role of mobile technologies in core enterprise functions. It is also a double-edged sword, offering network operators new revenue streams and applications while introducing new challenges.
This means when 5G comes, the network will be more competitive, and the market will see increased demand for ultra-broadband with low latency. This presents news challenges for the industry.
Despite these, network operators still adhere to simplified methods to design and rollout their networks. In their Optimizing the Transport Network for a Better User Experience white paper, Ovum analysts highlighted the problems of current network assessment and planning methods, such as hourly link utilization. It highlighted recommendations based on packet loss and delay evaluation.
“The customer has so many network challenges. So, Huawei set up an exclusive team to study these changes and invited many industry experts. The IP gala event serves as a platform to let our customers and experts share ideas, working together to fix the network challenges as to why Huawei organized this event in this region,” said Huawei’s Hou.
Rethinking network design
Huawei’s experience-centric transport network standard and solution tackle these challenges head-on.
The new solution simplifies networking by offering less 2ms transport latency, a flat architecture of 2-4 hops, 10GE UNI to site bandwidth and less than 10-4 packet loss rate. It also uses predictive maintenance adopting a digital twin approach that uses artificial intelligence for KPIs and traffic prediction, big data self-learning, real-time analysis, and self-healing capabilities.
The experience-centric transport network standard and solution embody Ovum’s recommendations by allowing network operators and companies to construct user experience-oriented networks that are more strategic and longer-term focused. Such an approach enables them to optimize business costs and value in a challenging and dynamic global marketplace.
"Through the experience-oriented network standards and solutions which Huawei and Ovum jointly released in SP IP GALA 2018, we hope operators could clarify network construction ideas, set network construction standards, to improve user experience and achieve business success," said Hou.
The experience-centric transport network standard and solution also builds on the experience past iterations. At the event, Wei noted that the industry and many operators had tried various methods to optimize user experience in the industry.
Hou cautioned that if the ‘black hole’ of the bearer network is not resolved, other optimization effects will be consumed. However, the bearer network is very complex. It is not easy to find the experience bottleneck and solve the problem. This requires strong R&D capabilities in the E2E network and has the capability of digitalization, intelligence, and AI automatic learning, which Huawei has such capabilities.
Besides using the IP Gala event as a launchpad for its new network, Huawei also addressed the various challenges that today’s operators face.
A particular concern was 5G. The company noted that LTE and 5G have made radio access networks are capable of higher speeds, and services come with Ultra-Reliable Low Latency (URLL) requirements and users demand higher network availability. Traffic will become more unpredictable and see shifts in geographic locations.
It will make the traditional approach of using service assurance sampling techniques -- which use packet loss ratio (PLR) over long intervals -- inefficient. The main reason is that a short-term packet loss can severely impact E2E user experience, although operators may not detect them.
Besides, Huawei noted that examining bearer network performance of one network segment alone, such as the wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) network, microwave (MW) network or internet protocol (IP) network, would not provide the full visibility that E2E user experience demands. It means that operators need to employ different approaches and standards for addressing "experience" bottlenecks.
To address these concerns, Huawei released traffic suppression model and tools.
“We found that traffic suppression is the most important issues [to address] this challenge. We [do not just] care about the radio sites although most [regional] operators tend to pay more attention to it. One problem is that if your barrier network has a bottleneck, traffic will be suppressed,” said Hou.
Huawei set up a special team to study traffic suppression. It then worked closely with Ovum to the traffic suppression model.
The IP Gala event was not just about Huawei, however. Instead, it offered an ideal platform for experts to discuss real-world problems and examine the various solutions.
The event saw participation from Internet Engineering Task Force, LG Uplus and speakers from various regional service provider operators and Huawei's solution experts, who delivered keynotes on 5G-ready network and transport and discuss on 5G target network architecture and best 4G/5G experience network construction standards, followed with demo visit on the first day.
Meanwhile, Huawei discussed the IDN intelligent network evolution and future IP technical standards. It also organized “deep dive” workshops on 5G-ready transport and experience-centric network and showcased its SD-WAN solution.
“We wanted to set up a platform and invited big platform names to join us. All came together to talk and share and it's useful to get some ideas to solve this problem. That is a major highlight of the Gala event,” Hou concluded.