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During recent years, the requirements of telecommunications customers have diversified. Various applications are experiencing rapid growth, and data use frequency is increasing. These changes give rise to fierce competition between telco carriers and Internet companies. To maintain their competitive advantage, telco carriers urgently need to explore new markets, construct more flexible and agile service platforms, and develop innovative services to retain their existing customers and attract new customers. This author believes that the key to developing new services lies in the exploitation and innovation of existing favorable resources. It is well known that the communications network has an overwhelming superiority in its data transmission speed and quality control capability, upon which telco carriers' core competitiveness is based. The collective customer resources reinforce carriers' competitive advantages. Therefore, the emphasis for carriers during this transformation period is on stimulating their customer need for network bandwidth, while optimizing the relationship with existing customers. With this in mind, cloud storage — a new technology developed along with cloud computing — enters carriers' strategic vision. Cloud storage: The optimal incubation platform for new telco services Cloud storage is a concept developed from cloud computing. By employing cluster application, network grid technology, and a distributed file system, a cloud storage system uses application software to enable various storage devices on networks to work together, providing data storage and service access externally. When a cloud computing system stores and manages a huge amount of data, the system requires a matched number of storage devices. In this way, the cloud computing system turns into a cloud storage system. Therefore, we can regard a cloud storage system as a cloud computing system with data storage and management as its core. Now, let's get into details on what new services cloud storage can bring to telco carriers. Resource pool lease Cloud storage provides Amazon S3-like storage space lease services for individuals, enterprises, and applications to meet their elastic data storage requirements. After a user purchases desired storage resources from a resource pool carrier, the user can access and use the storage resources based on the web protocol, and let the carrier take all the storage device procurement, operation, and maintenance jobs. The user does not need to worry about the data security either, because the multi-tenant model separates the data of different users. Web disk Based on the said resource pool, cloud storage offers a user-friendly GUI to encapsulate object storage resources and provide Drop Box-like web disk services for users. Users can easily upload, download, manage, and share their data anywhere by using PCs or mobile phones. Web disk helps individual and family users securely store data and synchronize data among different terminals, and facilitates enterprise users to share information, work cooperatively, and manage unstructured data. Web disk for enterprises further achieves Windows-based remote backup at a low cost to protect enterprises' data security. Data backup For enterprise users, cloud storage can collaborate with backup software to form a backup solution with better cost performance and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Compared with traditional backup solutions using physical or virtual tape libraries, a cloud storage backup solution incorporates many advanced functions: Deduplication reduces users' needs for device procurement, intelligent system management relieves users' manual intervention and lowers capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expense (OPEX), distributed concurrent I/Os increase the system throughput, and the online/nearline storage mode reduces recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). Archiving and DST The archiving software and dynamic storage tiering (DST) software add to cloud storage's competitiveness by seamlessly archiving data from an online system to an object storage system and placing data to most appropriate media types. Object storage delivers an unlimited expandable capacity and intelligent management capability, reducing the TCO for mass data archiving. It employs an active archive method that enables archived data to be immediately accessed when required, without a long time latency. Based on the preceding four basic services, cloud storage produces abundant applications such as automatic backup of business data, synchronous sharing of family data, shoot-and-send by mobile phones, and multi-screen interaction. These applications share one thing in common, that is, their user experience is closely correlated to data transmission speed. Only a high-quality network can maximize these applications' performance. As we have discussed earlier, the core advantage of telecommunications carriers lies in their superb network quality. Therefore, cloud storage becomes the optimal field where carriers can exploit their advantages, expand new markets, and enforce service transformation. HUAWEI UDS system: An innovative product helping telco carrier transformation The selection of a proper cloud storage platform is crucial to carriers. Telecommunications services are consistently renowned for their reliable and good quality. Therefore, the cloud storage platform must also ensure the security and reliability of mass service data. At the Huawei Cloud Congress (HCC) held in September 2012, Huawei launched a cloud storage-oriented storage product — Huawei’s Universal Distributed Storage (UDS) system. This storage system employs an innovative architecture, and is designed to provide a reliable, scalable, and cost-efficient massive storage solution for customers. This product unveils the fresh new smart disk design concept, adopts a decentralized architecture for the first time in the storage industry, and develops a multi-level data protection mechanism. Solid foundation — DHT technology Scientists foresee that the global data amount will double every two years from now to the year 2020. To cope with a data explosion such as the world has never seen before, carriers must put special emphasis on the capacity expansion capability of their selected cloud storage platform. UDS is based on distributed hash table (DHT) technology. The address space of each storage unit is partitioned, addressed, and then mapped to a DHT ring. Each storage unit takes charge of address space routes on a small scope and stores a small portion of data. An access request to any storage object can be addressed to the correct storage unit partition through one Hash operation. Therefore, data can be addressed from or stored to all storage units in the system. A DHT ring has an infinite address space and is scalable in size by changing partition space or adding partition quantity (Figure 1). Theoretically, a DHT ring can support an extremely large number of storage units and scale up to EB-level capacity. Figure 1 Scalable DHT ring that supports an infinite number of nodes Decentralized architecture — Equivalent point-to-point access, reducing node indexing and search latency In a traditional storage system, the extended data search latency becomes a prominent problem when data in the system increases sharply. UDS, with its innovative architecture, efficiently resolves this problem. UDS has two logical layers (clusters): the object storage service controller node (OSCN) cluster and the universal distributed storage node (UDSN) cluster. An OSCN provides an access interface for object storage services. It is mainly used to process and control access requests from clients, establish an object transmission channel, and manage metadata. A UDSN is used to store and replicate data and metadata, and verify their consistency. By using the DHT algorithm, the OSCN cluster can have an equivalent point-to-point access to the UDSN cluster. This means that the UDS system does not have any central node as a traditional storage system does. Every OSCN can directly address and access every UDSN. In this way, the data indexing and searching latency is shortened and a data access bottleneck is eliminated. Figure 3 Decentralized architecture for equivalent point-to-point access Smart disk — Fine-graind capacity expansion, linearly increasing system throughput The ongoing development of new applications requires that the cloud storage platform be constantly expanded. The capacity expansion granularity directly determines carriers' platform construction costs. UDS capacity expansion is based on its UDSNs (also named smart disks), each of which contains a disk drive, an energy-saving ARM chip, small-capacity memory, and an Ethernet interface. Each smart disk is allocated a dedicated IP address to connect to switches and communicate with other smart disks in a distributed and interconnected network (Figure 4). If the system capacity needs to be expanded, you can add more smart disks to achieve disk-level fine-graind capacity expansion. Figure 4 Interconnection of smart disks Each smart disk offers a fixed access throughput; therefore, in the equivalent point-topoint access mechanism, the total system throughput is linearly increased along with the capacity expansion. This helps carriers get the most out of their investment. Central resource pool for distant data centers Nowadays, telco carriers usually construct multiple data centers for nearline storage and disaster recovery reasons. UDS achieves unified scheduling and management of data centers spanning remote locations, supports on-demand terabyte-to-exabyte capacity expansion, and meets diversified customer requirements. Figure 5 Unified scheduling and management on data centers spanning across different regions With UDS (Figure 5), data in distant data centers is remotely synchronized, with the numbers of data copies customizable according to SLA requirements, while application clients' requests are sent to the nearest data center for processing. This extraordinary scalability, reliability, and operability manifest a bright application future for the UDS system. All the preceding advanced technologies, including scalable and direct addressing DHT technology, decentralized architecture, smart disk interconnection, stateless OSCN cluster technology, metadata Hash technology, and cross-regional deployment of data centers, reinforce the competitive advantage of the UDS system as an EB-level storage system. For customers who do not want to purchase a large storage capacity for initial deployment, but will constantly expand the system capacity with the service development, UDS reduces the initial investment and provides flexible scalability. For customers who need to simultaneously manage multiple large-capacity service systems, the UDS delivers a massive storage resource pool to offer storage services and lower the TCO. Success story: China Telecom e-surfing cloud storage With its openness, security, and abundant successful experience, Huawei UDS was selected by China Telecom as their cloud storage platform. Huawei also formulates cloud storage standards and provides consulting services for cloud storage product design for China Telecom. Owning to the cloud storage ecosystem that Huawei has built with its 300+ partners, Huawei has accelerates the cloudification of China Telecom's services and applications, helps the operator enrich its operating experience in the cloud storage field. For example, after the deployment of a cloud storage platform for China Telecom Shanghai (Shanghai Telecom), each customer who purchases 20Mbit+ bandwidth services can enjoy a 100 GB family cloud storage space for free. Attracted by this promotion, Shanghai Telecom accepted 144,076 new broadband users within its first half year of offering this service, with monthly growth of 22,165 users and the total storage space reaching 21,150.38 GB. China Telecom, relying on the favorable resources provided by Huawei UDS, provides diversified cloud storage services to its broadband, phone, and Internet customers. Customers can then automatically back up, synchronize, and share information through the storage service platform. China Telecom also develops customized storage applications for Internet users and Internet solutions for enterprise users to access, store, synchronize, and dispatch files and media resources. The e-surfing cloud storage project helps China Telecom transform its IT infrastructure to a cloud computing platform, and lays a solid foundation for the success of China Telecom’s cloud computing strategy. Cloud storage is a visible cloud technology. Besides China Telecom's e-surfing cloud storage, there are many similar services emerging in the market, including Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service, the Box.net file storage sharing service, and the Google Device cloud storage service. It is forecasted that the total output value in the global cloud storage market will reach USD$46.8 billion by the end of year 2018, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.2%. The cloud storage market pattern is forming, and it is time for carriers to capture these opportunities. Huawei UDS assists carriers in gaining a leading position in this new market.