Much is made of the transformation underway at communications service providers (CSPs) around the world -- a transformation that incorporates changes to corporate culture, staffing requirements, business case strategies and commercial services, as well as network and supporting technologies.
As the CSPs change, so do their requirements, particularly when it comes to sourcing technology. Where once they could build their network and service creation strategies around a small number of traditional suppliers, the inevitable introduction of SDN and NFV capabilities into their networks is affecting their sourcing, purchasing and partnership requirements and changing their relationships with the supplier community.
That means the traditional lead suppliers to CSPs -- the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Nokia Networks and others -- also need to transform if they want to remain relevant to the needs of their existing customer base.
That's because remaining relevant means much more than just staying in business (something that some players in the vendor community have been struggling to do). To source the expertise and know-how they need for the New IP world, CSPs are turning to a new breed of vendor partner, forging new relationships and testing new methodologies.
As Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders noted recently:
Choosing the best partner for the job of building a 21st century-proof comms network means service providers need to first force themselves outside of their comfort zone and at least consider alternative suppliers. (See Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria.)
So are the vendors evolving to meet the modern-day needs of the CSPs? We conducted a snapshot survey of a selection of leading communications networking technology vendors to find out if they have evolved and if they match up to what Light Reading believes is a telling set of vendor selection criteria, mostly related to the ability to support the network virtualization and systems integration needs of today's CSPs.
We approached 13 vendors -- the following 11 responded:
- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)
- Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)
- Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN)
- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)
- Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. on behalf of Fujitsu Ltd. (Tokyo: 6702; London: FUJ; OTC: FJTSY)
- HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP)
- Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
- Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR)
- Netcracker Technology Corp. , a subsidiary of NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)
- Nokia Networks
The two that weren't able to respond in time for this particular survey were Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763): They will be invited to participate in our next survey, which will include a number of additional vendors.
The survey responses are available on the following page, along with some key findings, followed by a brief snapshot of each of the 11 vendors based on their answers and any supporting information provided.
The responses are in many cases not surprising but still illuminating. There is no doubt that the companies that have dominated supplier relationships with the CSPs over the years have been adapting, in terms not only of their portfolios but also of their operations, market coverage and involvement in industry groups and organizations.
It's also clear, though, that there is a great deal of work to be done before the vendor community is able to meet the demands of CSPs that need to compete in a digital, cloud-driven, software-defined industry.
Next page: Key findings and vendor responses
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, and Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading