Scorecard reports are usually notable for their vendor ratings, but a recent Infonetics report on service delivery platforms (SDPs) is also notable for a couple of other reasons.
While ranking Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) as the two top SDP providers, Infonetics Research Inc. analyst Shira Levine also noted that the market itself is shrinking and that the definition of SDPs is becoming a bit blurry. (See Ericsson & Oracle Named SDP Leaders by Infonetics.)
Levine, who is the directing analyst of service enablement and subscriber intelligence for Infonetics, also makes the point in explaining her scorecard that it isn't based on any subjective analysis on her part, but on the analysis of service providers using SDPs and on objective criteria.
The need to make that point is timely, given the recent NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT) lawsuit claiming the Gartner Inc. Magic Quadrant ratings are based on subjective criteria including the amount of money spent on consulting services with Gartner -- a claim the analyst firm is staunchly denying. (See NetScout Sues 'Pay-to-Play' Gartner.)
"It is important to us to use very transparent methodology -- making it clear how we get to the numbers we get to," Levine notes. To the extent that there is any subjective analysis, it is being done by the service providers themselves, who rate the SDPs, and not by the analyst. Her job is mostly to try to do apples-to-apples comparisons of key metrics and to gather market share data.
Levine admits that's harder in the SDP arena than in most because of the lack of a concrete definition for an SDP, which is a software and services function. For her purposes, Levine defines it as including service execution, service orchestration and brokering, and service exposure. Service execution is where the service logic is created and defined, and service exposure can include an applications programming interface (API) framework.
"One of the first things I had to do was provide a definition, because there isn't really a standard approach," Levine notes. "Some people include policy and charging or OSS-BSS in their service delivery platform, but I chose not to include those and to focus on the infrastructure that is used to define and create services."
Ericsson's SDP placed in the top three on each of her criterion, with the exception of price, which is where Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. did the best, she notes. Ericsson's strengths are service and support and product reliability. Oracle's SDP play, based largely on assets it acquired in the BEA buy, was ranked high on financial stability and solution breadth, but also stumbled on pricing. (See Oracle Tackles Service Delivery.)
Levine calls out one smaller player, OpenCloud Ltd. , as a standout in her ratings for technology innovation and pricing.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading