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Interview: IoT Is Moving Towards More Intuitive Technologies That Can Scale To Tackle Growth


Waiman Lam

ZTE Corporation, China’s largest telecom equipment company, has recently completed tests set up by Department of Big Data and IT Technology, China Mobile Research Institute for Internet of Things (IOT) docking and interoperability, a key step in the deployment of cloud-based Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies. Waiman Lam, Senior Director of Technology and Partnership, ZTE Mobile Devices, ZTE Corporation in an interview with HPC Asia tells us how IoT and ZTE’s M-ICT strategy will help companies across the globe adopt big data technologies and deal with challenges that IoT is expected to bring.

Gartner predicts that in the next four years businesses will start implementing some aspect of internet of things, what is your take on that?

Internet of things (IoT) is fast becoming a very important part of the telecommunications industry. We announced our M-ICT strategy last year in order to address the challenges and opportunities that IoT will bring. As part of ZTE’s M-ICT strategy, the company is committed to provide customers with integrated end-to-end innovations to deliver excellence and value as the telecommunications and information technology sectors converge.

As a true end-to-end telecommunications solutions provider, we will continue to focus on innovating to stay ahead of the technology curve, spanning network and devices. We consistently aim to develop services that enable seamless and enhanced user experience to our consumers in the connected society.

The recent launch of our global flagship smartphone AXON is a testament to our device strategy where we are committed to bringing the latest innovations and technologies into one device so the consumer can have the best mobile experience. Features and services such as dual camera, security authentication, Hi-Fi sound, and ability to connect to different LTE/4G/3G/WiFi/Bluetooth/NFC network interfaces in a single device.

How is this trend going to impact these companies?

M-ICT or IoT will certainly impact small and large companies across all sectors. From our perspective, we are the enablers of end-to-end telecommunications and we will continue to do our part in providing solutions and innovations in this area.

Big data has been trending for a while now, with organisations taking to it in a big way. Almost all big businesses are in the process of implementing some aspect of this. How is this impacting their current IT infrastructure?

IT infrastructure has been experiencing tremendous growth fueled by demand – from the initial Internet period to the current state of fast and sophisticated broadband mobile connections and data packages. IoT is moving towards more intuitive technologies that can scale to tackle growth, as more and more things will get connected. ZTE estimates that there will be around 100 billion connections by 2020 and beyond. So from the very backbone of IT infrastructure all the way to the user interface will require upgrades to the latest technology in order to support this growth.  ZTE is a pioneer in pre-5G and 5G technology, as well as cloud computing and services;we are poised to ride this technology advancement wave.

What are the major changes they have to make to their IT infrastructure as they adopt big data technologies?

We believe IT providers will have to be ready to augment their current infrastructures in terms of reliability (redundancy), efficiency (processing horsepower), capacity (storage – physical and virtual servers), accessibility (speed), and security (authentication) to take on the  increasingly complex and demanding needs that the IoT and big data era will bring.

What kind of solutions is ZTE offering to enable this? How do you help the organisations move towards the big data goal?

ZTE has a complete solution on IoT NFV (Network Function Virtualization) to help organizations adapt to Big Data, but also to take on the challenges that IoT would bring.  We have recently completed a test certification with Big Data and Technology for China Mobile’s research arm, part of the China Mobile Research Institute, for IoT (Internet of Things) docking and interoperability.  We believe this achievement is a key step for the deployment of cloud-based NFV technologies. We are collaborating with many partners including VMWare, HP, and RedHat for this multi-vendor test environment designed to verify the interoperability of different configurations of hardware layers, virtual resource layers, and virtual network functions layers.

Do you think high performance computing is the domain of specialised industries? Or do you see this moving into the regular domain? Which segments can best benefit from adopting HPC and why?

We believe that IoT will cross and impact many areas and functions across all industries and therefore HPC will eventually be moved into the regular domain and not just for the specialized industries. Though, we need to note that certain industries may have more stringent requirements from time to time.

It’s not just businesses even individuals in mature markets will own at least three smart devices that talk to each other, how does ZTE see that market?

We agree with this assessment, and have observed that in developed markets, each person owns an average of 2 to 3 smart devices. It could be a smartphone, tablet and wearables. Smartphone penetration in the developed markets is very high; that is especially so in China. We are still quite optimistic about the future of the smartphone business as we have witnessed that, even for a replacement cycle, China alone will have an estimated volume of at least 400 million units annually. We are also doing quite well in the US market where we have experienced a 30% YoY growth on smartphone shipments. We will continue to focus on addressing the consumer needs and requirements, engaging with the consumer right from the start, i.e. early phase of product design, and developing a device that will satisfy their needs.  We are putting the consumer at the heart of everything we do here at ZTE Mobile Devices, and our AXON smartphone launch last year is just the beginning.

Since you are in the end user communication devices and technologies space in a big way, what kind of products or devices will be popular then?

We still believe smartphones will continue to play an important role in our day to day activities and they will continue to serve as the gateway for the user to the IoT. This is how users will continue to stay connected, and will be able to access, control, and manage all things on their mobile device. At ZTE, we are putting a lot of effort into innovating when it comes to smartphones. Our consumers will always get the best experience by using a ZTE device.

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