Ten companies from all parts of the value chain entered the awards process for "Company of the Year (Public)" and seven made it through to the next round, including hardware makers, software developers and a network operator. We run the critical Light Reading eye over the players on our shortlist below.
The Service Provider IT (SPIT) player has already been singled out by Light Reading as one to watch, having announced ambitious plans to make a concerted push into the virtualization and big data analytics markets this year through both organic and takeover activity. Bulking out its BSS division, Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) has already agreed a $272 million acquisition of Comverse Inc. (Nasdaq: CNSI)'s BSS assets -- a move that will strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe's cable and satellite markets -- and the company seems likely to follow this up with other M&A moves in the months ahead. (See 10 SPIT Vendors to Watch in 2015 and Amdocs Splashes $272M on Comverse's BSS.)
So what else makes Amdocs so interesting? Its Network Cloud Orchestrator product, for one thing, which Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell says "contains important features for next-generation network operations, including support for hybrid (physical and virtual) network management." Amdocs' Master Enterprise Catalog is another recent highlight, according to the company, providing a self-service portal for business planners and other tools to speed up service development.
Amdocs expects revenues to grow by somewhere between 2.5% and 5.5% this year, and it is guiding for earnings per share growth of 4.5-7.5%. Investors like what they are seeing and hearing: The company's share price rose by about 17% on the NASDAQ during the year ending March.
Investors in switch maker Arista Networks Inc. may have been spooked by a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) lawsuit in late 2014 and the departure of CFO Kelyn Brannon for "personal reasons" last month, but don't let that put you off. Arista remains one of the most innovative infrastructure players in the industry, despite the challenges it is facing. (See Arista Addresses White Box Threat, Cisco Slams Arista With Massive Patent & Copyright Suit and Arista Down Following CFO Resignation.)
Arista regards its Extensible Operating System (EOS) as its most significant development in the past year, pointing out that cloud architectures built with the EOS can scale to "tens of thousands of compute and storage nodes with management and provisioning capabilities that work at scale." Speaking to investors during an earnings call earlier this month, CEO Jayshree Ullal convincingly argued that its software capabilities would give Arista the competitive edge over the emerging generation of white box switches.
Arista's financial performance is certainly something to envy. In its last financial year, it doubled revenues and reported a 62% increase in net profit. Although Arista's share price took a hit following news of the Cisco lawsuit, it was still about 28% higher at the end of March than when it first went public in June last year.
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