Telco transformation has been a hot topic for a few years now, fueled by the impact of cloud, virtualization, OTT and increasingly ubiquitous wireless connectivity.
So great has been the focus on the network operator/service provider community, though, that it's sometimes easy to forget that the vendors are also undergoing the sort of transformation that would impress Seth Brundle, the transmogrifying scientist portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in David Cronenberg's slightly disconcerting 1986 celluloid effort The Fly.
One of the key drivers for vendor transformation is the changing set of criteria that network operators are using to make procurement decisions. Speeds and feeds might still be important, but these days network operators, as they figure out how they're going to migrate to a next-generation platform, want to question their suppliers about lots of other things too. (See Building Momentum for the New IP and Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria.)
That growing list of requirements includes things such as multi-vendor systems integration capabilities, the development of NFVi (NFV infrastructure), involvement in open source industry development groups and so on.
So we asked a selection of vendors -- big names, you'll know them -- to answer a few questions to see how they shape up in terms of the new skills set. Questions such as:
- What level of third-party support does your company offer in terms of systems integration services?
- Is your company developing its own virtual network functions (VNFs)? (We then offered a list of VNFs and asked which ones they were developing.)
- Can your company demonstrate inter-working of those VNFs on other vendors' NFV infrastructure (NFVi)?
- Has your company developed a MANO (management and orchestration) solution for the management of virtualized and/or hybrid legacy/virtualized networks?
The results are now available here on Light Reading: see Vendor Selection Survey: New Criteria for the New IP Era.
Our seven-page report includes a selection of key takeaways, such as:
- Among the vendors we surveyed, the CPE enterprise router/switch is the most common VNF being developed (8 of the 11 vendors answered "Yes"), followed closely by a number of packet core functions (HLR/HSS, MME, SGSN, GGSN, PCRF), firewalls and network routing.
We also provide a snapshot of each of the 11 vendors that provided answers to the survey in what was a very short turnaround time.
What the results show is how focused the industry's main vendors are on developing NFV and SDN capabilities, how they are adding new programming language capabilities. We'll never know just how much different the answers would have been if we had asked the same set of questions one or two years ago, but I think it's fair to say the results would have been radically different -- the vendors have had to move quickly during the past 24 months.
And it's clear from our results that the next thing they all need to figure out is how to deal with the emerging "white box" market. John Chambers at Cisco sees the white box sector as the biggest rival to Cisco's future fortunes, as he told Light Reading earlier this year.
Our survey shows that this threat needs to be addressed more thoroughly by many of the main incumbent vendors.
Our report is free to read and the full results table can be downloaded for free (you just need to be registered to Light Reading, which is also free).
I hope you find the results of interest.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading