I posted an article on LinkedIn introducing Huawei and summarizing the Huawei Connect event last week:
Who is Huawei? Don't They Make Refrigerators?
Three months ago, I moved from Boston to Hong Kong to work for Shenzhen, China-based Huawei. Many of my local American friends and co-workers in technology knew of Huawei, but many others still hadn't heard of them. “Who is Huawei? Don't they make refrigerators?”
This past week was the Huawei Connect conference in Shanghai. I thought I'd take the opportunity to share more about Huawei with my American and global friends by recapping various highlights from this week's event.
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Who is Huawei? Don’t They Make Refrigerators?
Three months ago, I moved from Boston to Hong Kong to work for Shenzhen, China-based Huawei. Many of my local American friends and co-workers in technology knew of Huawei, but many others still hadn’t heard of them. “Who is Huawei? Don’t they make refrigerators?”
This past week was the Huawei Connect conference in Shanghai. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share more about Huawei with my American and global friends by recapping various highlights from this week’s event.
Huawei is a Tech Giant
Huawei is a Chinese technology giant. They do limited business in the US, but they are a leader in just about every other market around the world, from Asia to Europe to the Middle East to Africa to South America and more.
The best way to describe them in comparison to American companies would be to say Huawei is like a combination of Apple, Cisco, Lucent, Amazon Web Services, Red Hat, Dell, and IBM all into one company. A company that:Will make about $100 billion USD in revenue this year, with the majority coming from outside of ChinaEmploys over 180,000 peopleIs still growing over 30% year-over-year
For context, Hewlett Packard Enterprise had 2016 revenue of $50.1 billion USD and 195,000 employees; and Amazon grew about 27% annually in 2016.
Huawei is a Consumer Electronics Giant, Like Apple
If you’ve heard of Huawei in the US, it’s most likely due to Huawei’s consumer electronics business.
Just surpassed Apple this week to become the #2 global smartphone leader. Huawei’s phones are quite popular around the world, although they aren't widely available in the US yet. That should change over time. Meanwhile, I'm impressed by my Huawei P10 Plus
Makes a wide range of leading consumer electronics, from PCs & tablets to wearables to mobile broadband devices to smart home gadgets to accessories
One of the things that sets Huawei apart is that it makes its own ARM chips and chipsets inside its phones. This week, Huawei announced the launch of its Kirin 970 processor, which will bring advanced AI capabilities to upcoming phones via an industry-first dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU).
Huawei is a Networking Giant, Like Cisco+Lucent (Nokia)
Even though most people know of Huawei through its consumer electronics products, Huawei’s largest business is as the world’s #1 networking and telecommunications equipment manufacturer. In this way, you can think of Huawei as like a combination of Cisco and Lucent (though Lucent is no longer a stand-alone American company but now a part of Nokia).
Networking and connectivity is key for digital transformation, and Huawei has been highlighting many new advances this week in connecting everything from IoT to edge deployments to cloud environments. For example, Huawei introduced a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution, which delivers new WAN capabilities as a cloud solution.
Huawei is an Enterprise IT Giant, Like Amazon Web Services+Red Hat+Dell+IBM
Huawei has a massive enterprise IT portfolio, from public cloud to software to hardware to services. In this way, Huawei is like a combination of:Amazon Web Services, since Huawei has a leading public cloud portfolio, including its Huawei Cloud public cloud service in China and Huawei-built partner clouds around the world, such as Open Telekom Cloud in Europe and Open Cloud with Telefonica in South AmericaRed Hat, in that Huawei has a strong software portfolio for everything from building private clouds to big data analytics, and is also a leader in open source (for example as platinum members of theOpenStack Foundation and Cloud Native Computing Foundation)Dell Technologies, as Huawei has a comprehensive hardware product line across servers, storage, networking, telepresence, video, and moreIBM, for Huawei has a comprehensive and strategic solutions and services business with its customers and partners
Huawei announced many newenterprise offerings this week, including:Atlas, a new-generation intelligent cloud hardware platform for AI and HPC that integrates heterogeneous technologies such as GPUs, FPGAs, CPUs, and moreHuawei DevCloud 2.0, a cloud-based development platform for DevOps and rich application servicesHuawei Cloud Enterprise Intelligence (EI) services powered by AIHuawei Cloud Internet of Things (IoT) platformHuawei FusionCloud Stack, a private/hybrid cloud solution that gives enterprises the ability to extend Huawei Cloud into their own datacentersHuawei FusionBridge, which unifies multi-cloud topologies
Huawei also announced many strategic partnerships, such as with Microsoftto bring their applications to Huawei Cloud.
Huawei Is A Unique Integrated Technology Leader & Strategic Digital Transformation Partner
Huawei is guiding its customers in their digital transformation journeys by taking them to a destination that is all connected, all cloud, all intelligent. And, Huawei is uniquely positioned to take enterprises on this journey because it provides everything from edge devices to pipes and connections to cloud-based services and AI capabilities.
Connections + Cloud
As an example of the benefits of being able to provide both connections and cloud, recall the big rumble that AWS made at its own conference last year with the announcement of its AWS Snowmobile, a massive 18-wheeler truck targeting exabyte-scale data transfers between data centers.
To transfer 1 exabyte of data across data centers would require 10 trucks and take about 6 months to complete. This is certainly an impressive improvement over using the public internet.
However, Huawei has a 400GB Data Center Interconnect networking solutionthat can transfer 1 exabyte between data centers in just 3.1 days!
Total Digital Transformation
Throughout the conference, Huawei featured many partners and customers on their digital transformation journey. This ranged from the megacity of Shenzhen implementing a smart city with advanced realtime video surveillance and a “Traffic Brain” for improving traffic, to IoT-based smart campus solutions at numerous universities and companies, to cloud and AI-powered shipping logistics and robotics at DHL.
My favorite digital transformation story was about the bike-sharing service, ofo.
If you’ve been to a major city in China recently, you’ll have seen yellow ofo bikes everywhere. In Shanghai alone, there are about 500,000 shared bikes available for rent.
What makes this bike-sharing service and these bikes special is that they are entirely dockless. You can pick up an ofo bike anywhere and drop it off anywhere--no need to find a docking station to park in a particular place.
This is because ofo bikes are equipped with a special lock that you can unlock/ with a smartphone app, and gps tracking so you can find a nearby bike and ofo can monitor its inventory.
The first generation ofo locks had several challenges:Battery life was only a little more than one monthIn areas of poor network/gps visibility (e.g. indoors), bikes would disappear from trackingIn dense areas, locks wouldn’t open due to congested network traffic
Ofo turned to Huawei for help, and Huawei created the world’s first NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) chip: a tiny chip that used low power wide area network technologies and could fit in ofo’s locks to:Improve battery life from less than 2 months to over 2 yearsSolve reception problemsHandle extremely dense network traffic
This was a great solution to ofo’s lock issues. There was only one problem: there was no NB-IoT network anywhere to connect the new locks.
So, Huawei worked with its partner, China Telecom, to build such a network across China for ofo.
Finally, Huawei introduced NB-IoT APIs to its DevCloud platform so that China Telecom could offer NB-IoT services not only to ofo, but any company that wanted to access this new network.
Huawei’s ability to create chips and devices at the edge, build new network connections, and connect all this to a cloud platform makes it a unique and powerful partner for helping everyone from startups like ofo to massive enterprises like China Telecom on their digital transformation journey.
The Digital Refrigerator
So, my friends, as you can see, Huawei does many things. But, we do not make refrigerators.
I suppose, though, that if someone wanted to build a digital refrigerator with sensors and intelligent capabilities, and connect it to other smart devices and apps in the cloud, well, Huawei could be the partner to help do that.
It is really hard for the general public to know a company without consumer products. Before Huawei I work on a huge company (~100K Staffs), and the general public didn't knwo about, the reason is that there were no consumer grade products.
In the case of Huawei those products are the mobile phones. Where the mobile phones are popular, the brand should be popular.