Huawei Cloud evolves to cloud ‘for everyone’

Johannesburg, 07 Aug 2023
Jay Zhou, Managing Director of Huawei Cloud.
Jay Zhou, Managing Director of Huawei Cloud.

Huawei Cloud is stepping up its focus on innovation as a value proposition to enhance its standing as a cloud for everyone. This emerged at Huawei Eco-Connect Sub-Saharan Africa 2023, in Sandton, where Jay Zhou, MD of Huawei Cloud South Africa, outlined how Huawei Cloud underpins key industries’ transformation and growth.

Zhou said: “In the ICT industry, the cloud is still the future of ICT and the foundation of digital transformation. What has changed over the past year is that more applications are now going to the cloud, including virtual reality, automation and warehousing.

Huawei Cloud growth

He highlighted Huawei Cloud’s growth over the past year: “Globally, we have increased our global regions, with two new regions in Ireland and Turkey. We increased our global availability zones, which includes the new zone launched in Johannesburg last year,” he said. Huawei Cloud now has 2 800 content delivery nodes (CDNs) – including the new Cape Town CDN, which went online during the first week in July.

Huawei Cloud’s global revenue almost doubled last year, with a more than 40% increase in the number of partners and over 55% increase in the number of developers. Huawei has yet again increased investment in R&D, allocating 25.1% of its total annual revenue in 2022 to R&D. At the end of 2022, over 114 000+ employees, or 55.4% of its workforce, worked in R&D.

“Last year, we spent around USD25 billion on new technologies, new data centres. This is important because this is the reason we can keep innovating in this industry,” he said.

Focus on innovation

Zhou highlighted Huawei’s own ERP system as an example of the innovation and progress made in the company. “In the past, Huawei’s Oracle ERP system was a very complicated ERP system. It reached its performance limits and couldn’t be expanded. To generate a report on fulfilment would take us around 90 minutes. To overcome these challenges, Huawei decided to develop our own ERP system – MetaERP – and GaussDB distributed relational database. This reduced our reporting time from 90 minutes to 15 seconds, and fulfilment report time from 23 minutes to nine seconds.

“Huawei needed to give the world another choice in ERP, so we will launch this product to market in the near future,” Zhou said.

“In South Africa, we have seen an overall increase and growth across business KPIs – revenue, customer base and number of partners. Our services have also increased in South Africa. A Gartner report released in April this year stated that Huawei Cloud SA is already number three in infrastructure as a service – this is a big milestone for Huawei Cloud, achieved with the support of customers and partners.”

“We remain humble because we still have a long way to go. Some things we won’t change – our position, slogan and value propositions, including our outstanding technology, support levels and value propositions such as training won’t change. However, we are adding innovation to the value we create. Innovation is leading us to the future,” he said.

Cloud innovation for key sectors

“We cover all key industries including fintech, e-commerce, education, media and government. My aim is to build a cloud for everyone, in this market, which is affordable, trusted and innovative,” he said. “We can assist organisations even if they have limited budget or technical capabilities, or they need a partner to develop new solutions with them.”

Huawei’s AI innovations are making waves across sectors, such as its Pangu-Weather AI model, the first AI prediction model to demonstrate higher precision than traditional numerical weather forecast methods. Nature, one of the world's top scientific journals, recently published a paper describing how to develop a precise and accurate global AI weather forecast system based on deep learning using 43 years of data. In scientific trials, the Pangu-Weather model was found to accurately predict in seconds fine-grained meteorological features, including humidity, wind speed, temperature and sea level pressure.

“In government, a very traditional sector, I strongly believe hybrid cloud is the future because of data privacy concerns. Hybrid clouds can provide flexibility to the government. You can select which data to keep in your own data centre, and which data should go to the cloud. Huawei is the only provider that can do both, so we have a huge advantage in the hybrid cloud area,” he said. “We unify the architecture to enable customers to have a unified experience. We already provide a private cloud to SITA and are now busy with the public cloud.”

In education, online education is the future, and it depends on the cloud, he noted. “Concurrency is an important factor in this sector. In a test with Unisa, we reached 30 000 concurrent users writing exams at the same time – a record in South Africa. At UNIZULU, we provided a unique AI anti-cheating system.”

In the media sector, Zhou said Huawei Cloud’s E-cubed model (efficiency, experience and evolution) was driving growth and innovation. Huawei Cloud’s media innovations include rendering farms and high definition, low bitrate technologies to reduce latency in live broadcasts.

In finance and e-commerce, Huawei Cloud works with leading enterprises globally and across Africa to help them scale, overcome challenges and move into new markets.

Huawei helps e-commerce businesses overcome challenges such as flexibility, cost and future-proofing through scalable and secure infrastructure, transparent pricing and in-country support. For fintechs, Huawei Cloud enables scale and profitability, customer acquisition and robust governance, compliance and security across multiple countries.

“My aim is to bring our global innovations as well as global and local support to South Africa, to build a cloud for everyone – all enterprises, SMEs and enterprises in this country,” Zhou concluded.