Bracing for a digital torrent - will your campus network buckle under pressure?

How Huawei executes on its infrastructure vision to satisfy surging demands of cloud, IoT and AI

Sponsored Feature Enterprise applications and services have become increasingly cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered and machine learning (ML)-enabled. But the subsequent surge in service traffic and greater use of data-intensive AI applications are putting a strain on current campus networks.

Data volumes have also soared, inflated by the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) and a deluge of interlinked wireless mobile devices and real-time applications. IDC forecasts that there will be 41bn connected IoT devices and over 14bn connected non-IoT devices in operation globally by 2025.

Anticipating the bandwidth requirements that device and data growth will drive in the next decade, Huawei is equipping enterprises to build intelligent campus networks that offer gigabit speeds and beyond.

Critical, real-time applications and services already demand 100mbit/s bandwidth and millisecond-level latency. Moreover, the peak wireless rate for each user of today's virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) applications, as well as 4K telepresence video conferencing systems, calls out for 1.5Gbit/s.

Huawei envisions a campus enterprise network of the future characterized by three unique features. Apart from gigabit speeds, it will offer high intelligence through Continuous Self-Organizing Networking. And it will be capable of autonomous driving with agile service provisioning and troubleshooting to unify orchestration and management of networks, terminals, policies, users and applications.

Huawei's vision does not abandon current network architecture, but evolves it in phases towards a gigabit, fully wireless campus infrastructure which helps to accelerate cloud service migration. In that way, the company envisages that campus networks will form the cornerstone of enterprise competitiveness in the digital economy.

Enter the leaders quadrant

Huawei was named a leader in the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure. The company's campus network offerings include the CloudCampus 3.0 Solution, CloudEngine S-series campus switches, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs), and the iMaster NCE autonomous driving network management, control and analysis system.

Huawei Data Communication Product Line has set up 14 R&D centers worldwide, boasting more than 11,000 R&D engineers and more than 11,500 patents. The company also holds leading positions in 12 major standards-defining organizations, and has made significant contributions to standards such as Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7, and Segment Routing IPv6 (SRv6).

Intelligent O&M practices have become an important step in the evolution toward simplicity and flexibility as users and devices continue to proliferate on campus networks.

The Huawei CloudCampus is considered by some to have pioneered the L3 autonomous driving network for campuses. By facilitating one hop to multiple clouds, the solution enables services to be provisioned within minutes. And it proactively detects and optimizes the service experience. Huawei also offers an extensive range of technical support services for devices and solutions. These are complemented by advanced IT tools, issue-to-resolution processes and dedicated global technical support teams that handle service requests across all stages of the network lifecycle.

Customers lend weight to accolade

Huawei's campus network offerings have been widely used by global customers across sectors such as government, education, healthcare, manufacturing, finance, and energy. The CloudCampus Solution has enabled enterprises to benefit from premium fully wireless access and optimal cloud access in scenarios such as intelligent workplaces, intelligent buildings and intelligent production.

One deployment saw Huawei's NCE-Fabric network automation and intelligent management platform, as well as CloudEngine switches, help Spain-based agri-food conglomerate, bonÀrea Agrupa evolve its data center network (DCN) infrastructure to a software-defined networking (SDN) architecture.

The migration has dramatically shortened bonÀrea Agrupa's network provisioning time with centralized management and virtualized O&M, simultaneously future proofing the company for capacity expansion with the addition of CloudEngine switches that feature 10G and 40G connectivity options which can be scaled up to 100G.

"Beginning our digital transformation journey through DCN modernization with SDN brings us the capability to align business applications and services needs with the network infrastructure in a fast, flexible and secure way." stated Mr. Joan Espinagosa, bonÀrea's CTO.

Elsewhere ETH Zurich, a university run by the Swiss Federation and the Swiss Federal Council, rely on Huawei's Wi-Fi solutions to support growing numbers of students and mobile clients. The university, which has produced 21 Nobel Prize winners including Albert Einstein, was impressed by the quality of Huawei's technical support and its prompt response to customization requests.

Huawei's wireless access points are based on the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard which supports data rates of up to 2.53Gbit/s while an access controller supports large numbers of concurrent mobile device connections, extended hotspot coverage, and video applications. Simplified network management allows new generations of APs to each be easily connected with two cables to two different switches.

"The new Wi-Fi components are impressive in their good quality and performance," stated Dr. Armin Wittmann, ETH's Division Head, ID ICT Networks. "Configuration and commissioning of the new access points was simple and efficient. And the effort required for operation of the Wi-Fi network also meets our expectations."

At the Elisabeth-Krankenhaus Hospital Essen of the Contilia Group, data security was the top priority in efforts to reliably connect mobile medical devices via Wi-Fi access to its network. Patients and guests also require secure internet access for their mobile devices during their stay.

Huawei deployed a controller that manages all the Wi-Fi APs installed in the building. The hospital's internal network users are authenticated with certificates over 802.1X to establish a VPN tunnel while patients log on to a web gateway with personal credentials that are valid for predefined durations.

Apart from scalability and centralized management, the hospital also gained security features such as the detection of third-party Wi-Fi devices via Huawei's eSight management software.

Stand-out innovations to trump the competition

Customers like these have generally chosen Huawei's campus switches over competitors' products based mostly on their relative overall cost, breadth of services, product functionality and performance, product roadmap and future vision.

Having simplified the campus network architecture from three layers to two using a central switch and remote units (RUs), Huawei has introduced hardware innovations such as hybrid copper-fiber cables, Wi-Fi 6 smart antennas, and brand new switches and WLAN products. The company's optical-electrical Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) solution for instance, enables 60W PoE++ at up to 300m, three times further than the industry average according to Huawei. And its CloudEngine S8700 modular switch offers eight times greater port density than the industry average with redundancy backup for improved reliability, it said.

To improve users' Wi-Fi experience, Huawei's dynamic-zoom smart antennas, coupled with AI roaming and intelligent multimedia scheduling, support both omnidirectional and high-density modes. The AirEngine Wi-Fi 6E AP has attained a speed of 6.58Gbit/s in tests, enabling enterprises to build an all-gigabit network that delivers fast user access, remote interaction, and file transfer.

Huawei has made advances in software innovation too. Its L3 autonomous driving network actualizes a "zero intervention, zero wait, and zero interruption" campus network says the company, while the AI-powered iMaster NCE-Campus platform simplifies network management across WLAN, LAN, and WAN for large enterprises with multiple branches.

Huawei has also launched a leasable and scalable cloud management platform model, as well as flexible deployment options, including on-premises, public cloud, and managed service provider-owned cloud. Since then, platforms from other vendors have followed suit with similar practices and business models, the company points out.

All of this has put Huawei in a good position to help enterprises future-proof their campus networks with fully wireless networking, one global network, cloud management, and intelligent O&M.

Many organizations are now mulling how best to build new campus networks that both support cloud-Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and deliver a service-orientated end user experience. Huawei is focused on delivering infrastructure that connects people, devices and applications to meet that requirement and help enterprises on the first step toward accelerating digital transformation.

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Sponsored by Huawei.

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