4G changed how personal communication works, broadened information and entertainment delivery channels; imminent 5G deployment will further expand influence on social & economic activities, empower new applications in verticals as well as personal communication with ultra-broadband, ultra-low latency and massive connectivity.
As the foundation of tomorrow’s economy and one of crucial elements of digital infrastructure, 5G networks require hundreds of billions dollar investments to unlock greater social and economic value, and service providers must be ready for the benefits and challenges. Thus, it is necessary to identify key vertical industry use cases to drive 5G network adoption and estimate return of initial 5G network investment, it is also of great significance to pinpoint capability gap in current IT setup and plan evolution paths accordingly, to achieve optimal monetization of 5G network.
Figure 1: 5G network features and business requirements
Fundamental Capabilities for 5G Network Operation
To cater ever changing vertical industry requirements, 5G-Ready IT must be cloud-native starting from the infrastructure level. Microservices based architecture coupled with high configurability and orchestration will result in a carrier-grade, truly agile and cost-effective innovation incubator for verticals at large.
Network Slice Monetization
The ability to network slicing opens up a whole new world of monetization possibilities. 5G-Ready IT shall take new parameters into consideration: slice duration, bandwidth allocated, QoS, latency and max. connectivity, etc. This allows service providers to price services accordingly for applications ranging from remote medical procedure to smart metering.
Besides prepaid and postpaid, 5G network requires service providers to expand convergence into new type of user segments as well as navigating through 2/3/4/5G network infrastructure management tasks. Managing product catalog of a highly hybrid network as well as diverse equipment assets from different generation and multiple vendors requires thorough inspection into current operation tools and procedures.
Value Fabric Management
To unlock greater value for service providers beyond connectivity, a smooth partner onboarding and cooperation platform are at the center of value-creation chain. To effectively incorporate & monetize service provider capabilities into services, Open APIs and a flexible revenue engine are of necessity.
Network Orchestration & Provision
Zero-touch & real-time 5G specific network element orchestration enable 3rd party innovation. While 5G network promises ultimate flexibility in providing 3rd party the bandwidth, QoS and latency it requires, the process of meeting such requirements effortlessly involves complex orchestration efforts from RAN, Core, Transmission and BSS domains at scale.
5G network inevitably leads to exponential growth in data traffic, and operating such network also generates abundant network diagnosis data, which could be translated into valuable insights to help orchestrate resources, plan 4/5G network coexistence & transition plan, enhance customer experience and boost overall operation efficiency, if appropriate analytics techniques are applied on the right data sets.
March Towards 5G Era With Whale Cloud
In May 2017, Whale Cloud launched the digital business enablement platform (d-BEP) to the market with the great improvements on cloud infrastructure, DevOps, API platform, and analytics-driven business process, to support the technology evolution and ecosystem development.
Since 2018, Whale Cloud has adopted digital technologies and digital transformation methodology extracted from the world-wide practices from Alibaba Group to enhance the capabilities to manage challenging 5G network operation, flourishing digital services and demanding industrial transformation.
Support 5G network operation
The operation of 5G network needs full automation for efficiency improvement, i.e. automation of service provisioning, automation of service creation and automation of resource orchestration. All these requirements need end-to-end BSS and OSS platform with intelligence capabilities.
The data mid-end platform of d-BEP solution is able to translate the business data into knowledge. The other way around, the knowledge will support the business process in an intelligent way.
The data mid-end platform is also used to assist the network resource management and network operation to fulfill the intelligent resource orchestration, intelligent operation & maintenance.
Enable digital services
5G will bring more innovative digital services to individuals with the exponential growth of IoT and ultra-broadband service, and we could foresee the booming ecosystem where partners collaborate with one another to form value fabric. In this case, a digital platform is pivotal to manage various industrial player relationships, extended product catalogs, and complex business models for revenue management.
The API platform of d-BEP solution enables the capability sharing and ecosystem building via a set of standard-based APIs to realize easier partner onboarding, centralized product catalog offering, order-to-bill capabilities for telecom assets, as well as 3rd party products and services.
Telcos will turn customer insights into action for superior experience with the support of data mid-end platform. Customers will have consistent experience with intelligent service and seamless channel switch from one to another. Most notably, these services are tailored for each individual.
Drive vertical innovation
The main business driver of 5G lies in the support for industrial IoT (IIoT) explosion, e.g. connected vehicle, manufacturing, city, retail. Thus, it is compulsory for telcos to move up the value chain, rather than providing connectivity only.
In partnership with Alibaba Cloud, Whale Cloud provides the necessary elements to support the IIoT business development, including digital technology foundation, e.g. cloud, data analytics, AI, etc., IoT business enablement and application development, e.g. business mid-end platform, and ecosystem to ensure the sustainable growth and flourishing IoT business.
Alibaba Group has not only succeeded in the retail business as the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, but also has reshaped many industries with their forward-thinking models, like the agriculture, city operation, medical and health, finance and insurance, etc. Fueled by the AI technology and data operation knowledge, Alibaba Group has launched ET Brain solution for various domains.
Whale Cloud will continue to innovate these solutions together with Alibaba and make them adaptable to various market requirements with the extensive industrial knowledge and global collaboration with telcos and business partners across the world. We could collaboratively manage and monetize the 5G business to get the return of millions of investments faster.
The essence of 5G is about digital services to individual consumers, and business model refreshing for industrial players. We have witnessed old world formula disruption and emergence of unicorn companies in the mobile internet era, creating unique value to social economy and people. In the 5G era, the society will be further tightly connected with digital world, digital changes will take place even faster with enlarged scope in manufacturing, health, education, airline, transport and more.
The mission of Whale Cloud is to become the Global Leader in Digital Transformation. We are devoted to bringing new and fresh-thinking business models to different industries and creating business synergies by merging business sector borders. 5G will be the next big battleground for all industrial participants to rethink their position in the value chain, including telecom operators, which means, providing value beyond ultra-broadband connectivity is the primary requirements. Our value proposition is about fast adoption of new ideas and continuous innovation capabilities. The valuable and vast telecom business knowledge as well as strong support from tech and business partners will make us competitive and outstanding in digital era driven by 5G technology. We are marching towards 5G era in steady and with well-planned steps.
“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”, this is a dialog between Alice and the Red Queen in the film Alice in Wonderland and also perfectly depicts today CSPs’ status quo. CSPs were leading the technology and innovation in the past decade, but almost lost the battlefield to market challengers or disruptors: some of them are well-known web-scale companies, while some are start-ups that may disrupt the world in an unexpected manner.
We all recognize that the fuel of the innovation are data, IoT, AI and Cloud. However, none of them is native and originated from telecom companies. Thus, here comes the consequence – you compete with your enemies with machine guns, but they are fighting against with nuclear weapons.
It is not a fair play now. What you can do is to better leverage these technologies and tools to reinvent business models and build sustained differentiation, explore a new battlefield where you can dominate the war.
Let’s take a look at the market realities, which could make our life comfortable in the future but may cause business anxieties today:
- In the rapidly evolving world of the Internet of Things, market disruption is accelerating.
Industry players are shining a light on their capabilities of connecting everything, but struggling with a clear vision and profitable business models since the value fabric of IoT is so complex and no one company can dominate the whole ecosystem.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be the core for providers to create new revenue platforms and provide new services to customers, but they need to be absorbed by new business models to exert the important influence. Technology innovation cannot create value alone.
- The 5G will impact not only networks, but also our homes, workplaces, cities, and our lifestyles. However, CSPs have reached a consensus that developing 5G is too costly and complicated given the lack of know-how and correct business models. In this case, it won’t move as rapidly as we expected.
In today’s market, business model differentiation matters more, even than technology innovation.
Alibaba Cloud has penetrated to various industries and powered the digital transformation journey with disruptive business models and technologies, which has proved their value proposition and track record of successes. Together with Alibaba Cloud, Whale Cloud aim to be a Cloud Native Transformation Provider for cross-industry business, deliver a frictionless, hyper-efficient and off-loaded intelligent service ecosystem to power the digital transformation, but this time, we want to lead the running, not keep in the same place.
Hangzhou, China, October 10th 2018 – Whale Cloud (rebranded from ZTEsoft) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Republic of Ghana on innovative city development at the headquarters of Alibaba Group. Mr. Ben Zhou, CEO of Whale Cloud, and Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Minister for Communications of the Republic of Ghana, signed the MoU on behalf of each party. This agreement will reinforce mutual cooperation and fuel innovation and smart city development in Ghana, applying the cutting-edge technologies and solutions developed by Whale Cloud and Alibaba Cloud.
Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana, is undergoing rapid urbanization, causing challenges for city administrators and inconvenience for citizens. Under the MoU, Whale Cloud will form a strategic partnership with Ministry of Communications of the Republic of Ghana and deliver its Innovative City solutions to resolve these challenges.
Using cloud architecture, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence technology jointly developed by Whale Cloud and Alibaba Cloud, the Innovative City solutions will help launch rich industrial applications quickly on the platform of a unified operation center, including e-Government, ET City Brain, Mobile Payment and a Unified Media Center etc., which can help the government solve urban governance issues with the support of machine learning and AI algorithms, improve efficiency of governance and lower the costs of government operations, in order to transform Accra into an innovative and digitalized city.
Whale Cloud and Alibaba Cloud will also provide strategic and professional advice to transform the e-commerce landscape and help flourish the e-commerce business development in Ghana.
“Building connected and tech-driven urban areas is key to Ghana’s rapid urbanization. We look forward to working with Whale Cloud and Alibaba Cloud to utilise ICT innovations to improve the quality of life of citizens, and promote efficiency, transparency, expedite the provision of services to citizens while reducing the opportunities for corruption. We will work with tried and tested partners like Alibaba to make Ghana a digital and dynamic country for citizens, businesses and investors”, said Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful.
“We’re pleased to partner with the Ministry of Communications of the Republic of Ghana and leverage our expertise and industry-proven solutions to make Accra an innovative city. We will help Ghana lead the way in digital economy and accelerate its journey towards sustainable prosperity”, said Mr. Ben Zhou.
Whale Cloud Technology Co. Ltd., formerly ZTEsoft Technology Co. Ltd., has officially unveiled its new brand name, market ambitions and strategy at the Alibaba Computing Conference 2018.
Whale Cloud’s rebranding follows on Alibaba’s acquisition of ZTE’s stake in ZTEsoft and strengthens its strategic partnership with Alibaba Cloud, to become a cloud-native Digital Transformation Provider, capable to offer an unparalleled power of transformation by combining Whale Cloud’s extensive offer of business and operational enablers with Alibaba’s cutting-edge data technologies and vertical assets. The company also commits to helping individuals, society, businesses and governments worldwide to develop their full potential using digital technologies and to reach the value and benefits of the digital lifestyle.
The new company offers innovative data intelligence services, high-quality business and operation enablement solutions and professional services powered by cloud-computing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). Supported by its R&D centers around the world, Whale Cloud will continue enhancing its technical strength, investing in product innovations, and expanding its business landscape.
Present in 80 countries and leveraging more than 20 years developing and delivering sophisticated ICT solutions and support systems, Whale Cloud has built its core competences on communications software, operation services, cloud computing, big data analytics, AI, and Internet architecture. It targets now to fast-track the digital transformation process of the telecom industry and extend the benefits of this transformation across industries and marketplaces to help service providers, enterprises and governments to create massive value in the digital economy.
Developing Digital Economy Full Potential
Data is the essence of digital economy, while innovation is its engine. In Whale Cloud we are convinced in that the integration of powerful and massive data technologies and capabilities together with deep knowledge and strong solutions for business and operational enablement, is a game changer in the digital transformation arena and the only way for the industry to achieve the full potential of digital economy.
“The whale is a symbol of power and wisdom, naming our company Whale Cloud reflects our mission as Digital Transformation Provider for exploring and innovating to create unlimited data-based value in the digital economy”, said Mr. Bao Zhongjun, Whale Cloud CEO at the press conference in Hangzhou.
Becoming a cloud-native Digital Transformation Provider
Mr. Yang Ming, Whale Cloud SVP, shared the company’s market and product strategies. He said that the company has set a “321” strategy, which includes three core capabilities (technology, business model, and scientific research), two enablement scenarios (enterprise brain and city brain), and one ultimate goal (customer first). “Cloud computing, AI, and big data are the foundation of digital economy and our core strengths. Whale Cloud business models are evolving to consistently support product-based, service-based, and ecosystem-based approaches and to build an ecosystem with 30 operational partners and 100 technology partners”, said Mr. Yang Ming.
The company will invest 1 billion yuan in the next three years for the research of core technologies, launching an AI lab, a city brain research institute, and a cloud computing application development program in cooperation with Alibaba to assure continuous innovation and quick implementation of new technologies and products.