Huawei all smiles with $1.5bn developer plug amid the chaos

At its Connect Conference in Shanghai, Huawei executives attempted to put themselves on the front-foot with a $1.5 billion commitment to lure developers into its computing platforms.

This is one of the more notable challenges the business will face if it has to shift over to new operating systems. The technology might be fantastic, but if there isn’t the developer community and application ecosystem to back it up, there is little value. This is a massive consequence of Huawei’s entry onto the US Entity List, banning it from working with US suppliers, and should not be under-estimated.

The smartphone is the most obvious area to discuss, but there are others such as PCs and the developing IOT ecosystem. If Huawei is banned from using popular operating systems in these areas, its own version, Harmony OS, will have to suffice. If Harmony OS is to succeed, it needs developers to create products and applications which are compatible with it. With the additional funds, Huawei is aiming to increase the pool of developers it works with from 1.3 million to 5 million.

Looking at the rumours with the latest flagship smartphone, the Mate 30, it has been suggested the device will be delivered without any Google applications pre-loaded on the device. We’ll all find out in a matter of hours, though Huawei seems to be getting around the ban by including an open-source version of the Play Store on the device. This is not a long-term solution for Huawei, but it might suffice while it works on making the Harmony OS software and ecosystem battle-ready.

This is of course only one element of the Huawei business strategy moving forward. It is anticipating aggressive growth in the ‘Intelligence’ segment, and it does appear its enterprise business is going to get a supercharge moving forward.

This would appear to be a very sensible move for Huawei, as while it has dominated the network infrastructure market and made significant progress for consumer devices, it is little more than an ‘also-ran’ for enterprise. With numerous businesses becoming increasingly driven by digital models and technology, as well as the telcos aggressively promoting the promise of connectivity for future fortunes, there is a significant opportunity for growth.

“In terms of Huawei’s investment, they’re equally important,” Rotating Chairman Ken Hu said. “In the past, we mostly talked about connections. Today I’d like to focus on computing.”

If you are talking about autonomous driving, astronomy, and weather forecasting, the demand for compute power is only going to increase. Intelligence is going to be embedded on an increasingly large number of products moving forward, not simply limited to the cloud. And soon enough, the computing ecosystem is going to have to be a lot more collaborative.

All of these areas offer a lot of promise for those who can create solutions, cost effectively, to enable businesses to make money in the digitally-defined economy. For Huawei, this means new products in the semiconductor market, shifting to a more virtualised business model, opening up hardware products for customisable solutions and creating an opensource ecosystem to back-up the business.

Anyone reading these comments from Hu might think the business has just given up on telecoms infrastructure due to pressure from the US. This will never be the case, but often enough pressure forces innovative companies to find new ways to make money. We suspect this is the case at Huawei.

Ericsson and Intel partner for 5G cloud platform

Ericsson and Intel have announced a new partnership which is aimed at aligning the Swedes efforts for software-defined infrastructure with Intel’s Rack Scale Design.

The resulting hardware management platform will be designed for telcos targeting 5G, NFV, and distributed cloud. In theory, the pair aims to create a common managed hardware pool for all workloads that dynamically scales. It’s the scalable and affordable dream telcos have been promised for years.

The duo has said the new tie-up will allow telcos to take advantage of multi-vendor hardware options, Ericsson’s end-to-end software solutions, and Intel’s latest architectural solutions.

“We have long history of successful collaboration with Intel. Lars Mårtensson, Head of Cloud & NFV infrastructure for Digital Services at Ericsson. “This new collaboration will focus on software in addition to hardware and we see it to be truly transformative for service providers’ ability to successfully deploy open cloud and NFV infrastructure, from centralized data-centres to the edge. Intel’s and Ericsson’s joint efforts significantly strengthens the competitiveness and roadmap of the Ericsson Software Defined Infrastructure offering.”

“5G will be transformative, accelerating today’s applications and triggering a wave of new usages and edge-based innovation,” said Sandra Rivera, SVP of the Network Platform Group at Intel. “Our infrastructure manageability collaboration with Ericsson will help communications service providers remove deployment barriers, reduce costs, and deliver new 5G and edge services with cloudlike speed on a flexible, programmable and intelligent network.”

As part of the tie up, the Ericsson SDI Manager software and Intel RSD reference software will be converged, though the pair reiterated full backward compatibility would be maintained for existing customers. Any new solutions developed moving forwards will be subsequent Ericsson hardware platforms, as well as Intel’s server products which are sold through third-parties and in other industry segments.

Nokia loses its mobile network head Marc Rouanne

Finnish kit vendor Nokia has had an executive reshuffle that resulted in yet another head of its mobile networks business group calling it a day.

Marc Rouanne is a Nokia lifer who inherited the mobile crown when Samih Elhage cleared off following the last episode of corporate musical chairs at Nokia, which saw his group diminished by the separation of its services arm into its own little silo. The move is effective immediately and Nokia has wasted little time erasing him from history, which does make you wonder how amicable this latest split was.

History seems to be repeating itself as Rouanne’s departure coincides with his group being absorbed into a larger silo called the Access Networks Division, together with the fixed network group. Nokia has yet to name the head of this new super-division, which is surprising. Maybe Rouanne was lined up for the gig but then bailed at the last minute for some reason, resulting in the embarrassment of announcing a major new corporate initiative without anyone at the top of it.

Nokia has at least managed to replace Rouanne at mobile networks, with lifer Tommi Uitto stepping up from his role as head of product sales to head up the whole group. He will report into whoever they eventually find for the access networks gig.

“Nokia has a unique advantage in the 5G era with its end-to-end portfolio,” said Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. “By creating a single Access Networks organization that includes both fixed and mobile, we can improve our customer focus, simplify our management structure, and more efficiently leverage our full portfolio.

“Tommi is a strong leader with the right background in both sales and product development and I am pleased that he has accepted this role. He brings deep credibility from across the telecommunications industry and a proven ability to drive product leadership and business performance. I want to thank Marc for his contributions to Nokia and wish him well in the future.”

Creating an overall hardware product division makes sense, given the whole point of the Alcatel-Lucent acquisition. It’s such an obvious move, in fact, that it begs the question of why it didn’t happen sooner. This will hopefully be the last corporate reshuffle required to fully incorporate A-Lu as Nokia’s going to have to start tapping the mail room for its mobile heads if this trend persists.