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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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.