Establishing the right partner relationships is crucial for Huawei’s bid to expand its cloud business outside of China, said Huawei executives at ITU Telecom World 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Huawei is aiming to have 60% to 70% of its cloud business originate from outside of China by the end of next year, up from the current 25%. The firm has installed cloud bases in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe.
Huawei’s director of cloud computing marketing, Ron Raffensperger, said Huawei’s current challenge lies in engaging both systems integrators and software application partners specializing in cloud deployments for specific verticals, to help with its cloud expansion outside of China.
Raffensperger cited healthcare and transportation as e-government applications that hold great growth potential, and finding the right set of partners to pursue such projects with is critical, he said. Huawei has to date established between 20 -30 partner relationships with such firms.
In China, Huawei helped build the Shanghai Pudong Health cloud, which hosted the medical records of patients in hospitals and community health centers. The information available in the cloud enabled patients to visit outpatient or small regional clinics instead of specialized doctors which might be located far away.
The firm has also adopted the Amazon Web Services cloud interface as a standard for its own cloud products, so customers get access to tools and applications that have been developed around the Amazon cloud.
Raffensperger cited the adaptability of Huawei’s internal sales organizations as a further challenge faced by the company. A sales force accustomed to selling products such as switches and antennas could not sell the cloud concept to customers in the same way, and the challenge lay in understanding the needs of customers outside of China, he said.
Apart from understanding customer needs, Huawei has also chosen to focus on software for the cloud, particularly around automation and cloud management, which Raffensperger claims is a major differentiator among cloud providers. Although unable to reveal figures, Raffensperger said Huawei was spending ‘a lot of money’ on research and development.
Huawei’s cloud ambitions fall within the company’s targets for its enterprise business – president of the firm’s enterprise division William Xu told reporters at the event that Huawei is aiming to double its $2 billion sales figure from last year to $4 billion this year, followed by $7 billion next year to between $15 billion and $20 billion by 2015.