Huawei announces Microsoft cloud apps partnership

Huawei and Microsoft have agreed to bring Microsoft's enterprise apps onto Huawei's public cloud, with the two companies saying they will build an open online ecosystem and collaborate on development and marketing.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese networking giant Huawei has announced signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for strategic cooperation on cloud services with Microsoft.

Huawei Cloud already provides Windows Server and Microsoft RDS for SQL Server, with Huawei now set to bring more Microsoft enterprise products online.

According to Huawei Cloud BU and IT Product Line president Zheng Yelai, Huawei and Microsoft will "build an open and win-win ecosystem".

"As a global leader in enterprise IT, Huawei is a strategic partner for Microsoft in the mission to empower organisations as they transform," Microsoft China CEO Alain Crozier added.

"Our increased collaboration will drive innovation as we build a seamless platform to benefit customers through industry-leading technology. Together, we are confident that we will lead, and win, in the era of digital transformation."

Joint market expansion and marketing activities are also planned between Huawei and Microsoft.

"The two companies will initiate in-depth cooperation on the public cloud to provide the optimal experience of cloud services for enterprises and help enterprises implement digital transformation," Huawei said.

"Joint innovation by the two parties provide customers with trusted hosting and various enterprise applications as a service."

The news follows Huawei in April saying it was preparing to expand its public cloud offering outside of its home market of China, after setting up a new cloud business unit.

Huawei's rotating CEO Eric Xu at the time said an "all-cloud ICT infrastructure" is key to enabling the digital transformation for enterprises, with Huawei looking to help telcos build cloud-computing capabilities and digitise their operational systems.

"Beginning in 2017, Huawei will focus on public services," Xu said in April.

"We will invest heavily in building an open and trusted public cloud platform, which will be the foundation of a Huawei cloud family [that] will include public clouds we develop together with operators, and public clouds that we operate on our own."

Clement Teo, Ovum's principal analyst, at the time commented that Huawei's small United States cloud footprint meant it was missing out on a large revenue stream.

"US will be important for them and, at least, in the long-term, they will need to be in the market," Teo said.

Catherine Du, Huawei's director of marketing for enterprise, told ZDNet that Huawei planned to approach the US enterprise market "step by step".

Huawei made just 44.1 billion yuan in the Americas region in FY16, out of its total revenue of 521.6 billion yuan for the financial year.

Microsoft has had a strong focus on cloud, in July taking the wraps off its enterprise and business cloud services Microsoft 365 bundles.

The Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 offerings contain Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, which includes Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune, Azure Information Protection Premium, Cloud App Security, and Advanced Threat Analytics.

Microsoft 365 Business includes Office 365 Business Premium plus security and management features for Office apps and Windows 10 devices via a single console.

The Redmond-based tech giant then attributed its strong financial results in July to growth in its cloud business segment; Q4 revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $7.4 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent.

Within that, server products and cloud services revenue increased by 15 percent, driven by Azure revenue growth of 97 percent.

Microsoft plans on reaching an annualised commercial cloud run rate of $20 billion by the end of its 2018 financial year, last month acquiring Cycle Computing to bolster its Azure software development capabilities.

In July, Microsoft also detailed plans to turn Azure into an artificial intelligence (AI) cloud.

Huawei is similarly focused on AI, earlier this week unveiling its Kirin 970 chipset with built-in AI and calling it the "future of smartphones".

The Kirin 970 mobile AI computing platform is powered by an 8-core CPU and a 12-core GPU, which Huawei said delivers 25x greater performance and 50x greater efficiency compared to a quad-core Cortex-A73 CPU cluster. It has a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU), and was built using a 10nm advanced process with 5.5 billion transistors contained in an area of just one square centimetre.

According to Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu, the company's mobile AI is made up of a combination of cloud AI and on-device AI.

Huawei has additionally provided the Kirin 970 as an open platform for mobile AI developers and partners.

"Huawei is committed to developing smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the cloud," Yu said on Saturday.

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