China Unicom is working on what it ponderously calls its Cloud-Oriented Ubiquitous-Broadband Elastic Network (CUBE-Net 2.0) strategy, and as part of that, it recently partnered with Huawei to deploy some software-defined networking (SDN).
Part of the idea behind transport SDN is that software decides when a packet should ride the optical network, as opposed to the IP network, maximizing bandwidth usage. This will allow China Unicom to offer network-as-a-service.
For China Unicom, this is all part of the bigger picture of CUBE-Net 2.0, which the carrier says will require local broadband networks to evolve to a cloud-oriented architecture centered in the data center. The flattened network architecture can then use SDN and NFV technologies to provide on-demand cloud services.
This, by the way, sounds very similar to the Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD), which the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) open source group is working on, and which Huawei and China Unicom are both actively involved with.