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Labs and CSB to open joint facility with China Telecom



By Curt Hopkins, Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Labs

Last November, HPE’s network function virtualization (NFV) project team set up racks and servers, storage and switches, within the winking recesses of China Telecom Beijing Research Institute's mammoth server room. 

Across town, Junqing Xie, a research manager for Networking and Mobility Lab in China, pushed a button. Hours later, he gathered over a monitor with his team to see the results of the test—the first successful carrier grade NFV platform test ever conducted in China. 

NFV allows the user to virtualize nodes in a communications system, creating units that can be used to build communication services in the cloud.

The test proved to China Telecom (CT) and to other China operators that the combination of HPE’s Helion OpenStack platform and its OpenNFV architecture, clocking in at over 20 Gigabits per second, was a workable solution to their deployment issues. 

“At that moment we were quite confident this would go forward,” said Xie, a sentiment which has proven accurate

It has. HPE has recently announced the opening of a joint NFV lab with China Telecom. This is thanks to the success of Labs tech, the hard work by HPE’s Communications Services Business, Hewlett Packard’s long history in China – including a longstanding open NFV program – and the non-stop social engineering of David Lee, VP and Director of Networking and Mobility.

Technological exceptionalism

“Chinese companies would be preferred in China,” explained Lee, “But because of our advanced technologies, China Telecom decided to form a lab with us. CT is owned by the government. To form a joint research lab with an American company in Beijing, of course says a lot.”

davidlee.jpgThe China Telecom, and the Chinese telecom industry in general, know they are facing a moment of change.

“Current telco service providers are going to encounter enormous operational and financial difficulties if they don’t change,” said Lee. “Currently they are chained to hardware boxes, with high cost, which are difficult to upgrade. It takes two years to upgrade. Two years – you’re joking! You have software you can put into place in two weeks.”

NFV is “cheap, easy to change, it’s a must, particularly for China.” China has a huge population but the margin per user in telecommunications is very small now and the industry needs to maximize its efficiency, which NFV will help them do.

In fact, one stat alone should give you a sense of the scope of the challenge the Chinese telecommunications industry faces. Xie noted that China Telecom’s mobile subscribers alone number in excess of 200 million. That’s more than 60% of the entire U.S. population.

The need for a technology that is as scalable as NFV is self-evident.

"We don't play around."

The new lab will allow CT to test NFV in a measured way, with a reliable partner whose industry-leading experience and technology is both proven and trustworthy.

“We play fair with everybody with our Open NFV program,” said Lee. “We don’t play around and that has gained leadership for us in the Chinese NFV market.”

Growth expectations for 2017 are very high, he said.

“All the vendors in China could have big deals,” said Lee, “because the need is constant. The sector is maturing now and we can replace the traditional structure of telecom with NFV. But the operators are very careful about changes.”

For this reason, Labs’ long-term relationship with our Chinese counterparts will be integral to success, and the joint NFV lab is the keystone in that strategy.

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Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs