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October 6, 2023

Unleashing the Power of Cloud-Network Convergence

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ZhongHua Chen, of China Telecom, explores key findings from the WBBA’s new working group whitepaper
In the last in a series of four World Broadband Association (WBBA) Working Group webinars, ZhongHua Chen, Senior Engineer and Project Manager, China Telecom, explores key findings from the WBBA’s new whitepaper Driving the Future: Understanding the Landscape of Cloud Network Convergence.


Service providers are strongly committed to supporting the digital transformation of enterprises by creating intelligent cloud network infrastructures. These infrastructures focus on achieving a seamless integration between cloud networks and the underlying transport networks. This determination is coupled with the need to modernize bearer networks to meet new requirements and challenges. In future, for example, cloud network convergence is expected to contribute to reduced costs and increased flexibility in meeting the needs of long tail applications.

Service providers are actively exploring various ways to synergize networks and cloud services. The transformation of IP and optical-based networks, combined with intelligent cloud network convergence, and driven by AI-enabled network automation, will play a crucial role in successfully implementing and accelerating enterprise digital transformation.

This transformation is expected to fuel growth across all services. However, traditional cloud networks struggle to meet the high-performance and ultra-low latency demands of digital services. Real-time cloud availability and cost-effective terminal edge performance need continuous enhancement through multi-cloud collaboration, cloud-edge partnerships, and even cloud-network-edge collaboration.

The development of cloud-network convergence has revolutionized the traditional three-layer network structure (access, aggregation, and core). This structure has evolved into a two-layer system that revolves around the fundamental resource layer of the network. This evolution extends from the cloud, encompassing intra-cloud, inter-cloud, cloud access, multi-cloud collaboration, and cloud-network-edge-terminal collaboration.

The initial phase of cloud-network convergence occurred within the intra-cloud network (within data centers). To address the need for rapid transmission of large volumes of data from cloud services, intra-cloud integration enables the automatic deployment, operations, and maintenance of virtual cloud networks within data centers. This is achieved through consistent security and network policies for containerized and virtualized service applications. For example, the Leaf-Spine/CLOS non-blocking architecture and extensive layer-2 network technology were introduced to seamlessly combine and operate network capabilities within data centers and cloud environments.

As the focus of cloud-network convergence shifts to inter-cloud networks, particularly Data Center Interconnection (DCI), the emphasis is placed on efficiently forwarding and carrying east-west traffic between data centers. This is achieved by deploying high-capacity, non-blocking, and low-latency Data Center Interconnection networks. Additionally, due to the surge in enterprise demand for accessing cloud and SaaS traffic, cloud access has emerged as a critical aspect of cloud-network convergence.

The evolving demand for 5G, gigabit fiber networks, and robust network performance is driven by applications in cloud and IoT. Moreover, as enterprise and vertical industries undergo digital transformation and adopt multi-cloud strategies, bearer networks must accommodate an increasing number of essential services. Cloud-network convergence is now expected to fulfil the diverse requirements stemming from various enterprise, government, individual, and family scenarios.

Cloud-network convergence must be flexible to adapt to an array of constantly evolving use cases and application scenarios. Network cloudification necessitates the continuous improvement of cloud capabilities. Similarly, the construction of digital platform capabilities relies on the ongoing upgrading of cloud network capabilities.

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