Huawei Technologies’ strategy for addressing the enterprise communications market is currently in evolution on both regulatory and technological grounds.
From the legal standpoint, the Chinese telecoms and datacoms vendor’s two main strategic tie-ups: its acquisition of 16.5% of 3Com and its proposed joint venture in security and storage with Symantec, are still the subject of scrutiny by the authorities, so it can’t talk about product plans. Beyond that is the question of whether it has all the technologies it needs in its portfolio.
Victor Xu, VP and MD of the technical sales department for the Shenzhen-based company, said its strategy for the enterprise market is to preach the benefits of fixed-mobile convergence based on its ALL IP offering, which he said is an end-to-end system project that involves all layers of the network including service, bearer, access, terminal, and BSS/OSS.
Huawei’s strategy for FMC, at least for the time being, is entirely carrier-driven. It relies on an enterprise’s network provider having an IP Multimedia Subsystem architecture deployed in its core in order to be able to provide convergence as a managed service. This is understandable. Four out of the five product groups at Huawei (optical, fixed carrier networks, mobile infrastructure, handsets/datacards) sell exclusively to telecoms operators, and the company already considers itself a leading supplier of the constituent elements of IMS.
However, there is another DIY flavor of FMC involving PBX extension that some vendors are offering directly to enterprise customers where on-premise technology is deployed alongside a PBX, plus client software on all corporate mobile devices. This enables the devices to be integrated with the corporate PBX which treats them as extensions. This means cost savings when the user is on campus, the ability for international calls to be routed through the corporate network to lower bills, and for compliance purposes, the ability for all calls to be recorded.
Most of this type of technology tends to be offered by PBX vendors themselves as a means of extending the value proposition of their voice platforms. Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel all have products, but Huawei has no PBX, and Xu would not be drawn on whether there are any plans to start to offer one.
Another way to approach such an on-premise alternative for FMC would be to offer a heterogeneous PBX extension product that works with all, or at least the vast majority, of PBXes. This is a strategy adopted by the company behind BlackBerry, Canada’s Research In Motion, which bought Ascendent Communications last year precisely to do this.
Nokia, another FMC player with no PBX of its own, has gone down a similar route through a partnership with Siemens Enterprise Communications, enabling it to offer the Siemens’ MobileConnect PBX extension technology. There is also a start-up called OnRelay that offers such a product.
It is still early days in the evolution of Huawei’s approach to the corporate market, and it will be interesting to see whether it continues to see the enterprise as a customer for its carrier customers, or moves to address it directly. Certainly through the Symantec joint venture, and potentially also with its rapprochement with 3Com (and depending how close that relationship ultimately becomes), it could start to move in that direction. If it does, it may well need a DIY FMC offering of some sort to complete any switch, router, security, and storage products, not to mention the blade servers it wants to sell into enterprise customers.