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ZTE’s software defined initiatives reverberates through annual conference

According to ZTE’s CTO and EVP, Dr. Zhao Xianming, data traffic is growing by about 50-percent every year. “Now facing this fast growth of network traffic, how can we optimise and improve our advantages? We need to provide complete, holistic and competitive solutions to clients and manage our leadership in key areas in terms of satisfying increasing demands of consumers, government and enterprises.”

A key industry observation is that despite this explosive growth in data, growth of revenue is somewhat mediocre in comparison. Zhao said, “This gap will grow and telcos will have to deal with this.”

Despite having to face challenges like transforming traditional voice businesses to one that is based on voice-over-IP (VoIP), for example, Zhao opined that with more flexible charging strategies, traditional businesses can be managed.

“New business models can arise. But all these can only be achieved when it is based upon flexible and elastic network infrastructure.”

For an elastic network infrastructure to happen, software defined networking technologies have to be deployed.

M-ICT – vision, strategy, operating system

In 2014, ZTE had launched their M-ICT strategy to become an enabler for telco operators to transform themselves and improve efficiency of services delivered to consumers, government sector and enterprises. It is kind of based on the ‘prediction’ or ZTE vision that more and more devices will be connected and ‘smarter’ as a result of insights-generating big data collected by sensors on these devices.

All throughout the conference, the phrase “M-ICT era” also kept popping up, especially when the telco kit maker presented about their latest and upcoming solutions. This was particularly so for solutions in the areas of software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV).

In his presentation entitled ‘ZTE SDN/NFV: The network evolution in era of M-ICT’, SDN global marketing director, Hao Nathan shared about the challenges of rapidly increasing network traffic. “By 2020, mobile network traffic will hit 10GB per month.”

He also described SDN and NFV as methods for traditional networks that are based on expensive, complex and dedicated communications technologies, to actually evolve.

Simply put, SDN is a way to separate the control layer from the data layer. This would actually enable more flexible control of data traffic via the use of a controller, and Hao said, “The main purpose of an elastic network is to create agile service provisioning.”

Whilst detailing further about ZTE’s ElasticNet strategy that comprises use of cloud, SDN, NFV technologies and open standards, Hao also alluded to a MICT operating system(OS) for the whole system.

This OS  serves as a platform that unifies orchestration, operations and management. It is also a platform for services to be deployed and third party developers to develop on.

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