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COVID-19 will fade, but cloud reliance will remain

The COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging effects forced businesses to adjust in 2020 and now into 2021, but these changes will persist much longer than the pandemic. Most businesses made a wide range of changes to their IT strategies over the past year, but there are a number of commonalities. The first commonality is that technology is at the heart of how organizations have adjusted to COVID-19’s effects, to service their own employees and the changing needs of their customers. Cloud-delivered technology, in particular, has been core to providing the speed and scalability needed to support these adjustments in the most agile manner possible. The other commonality in COVID-19 responses is that organizations found a way to support increased technology spending, even in a time of much economic uncertainty. Cloud investments were prioritized during the course of 2020, which is reflected in the overall stability and continued growth of the market throughout the year.

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AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform are even more critical to the IT industry

While the market continued to grow and leading firms maintained their momentum, they were not unscathed by the effects of COVID-19. Vendors experienced a dip in revenue growth rates during 2Q20, at the height of uncertainty and pessimism. The dip was driven by businesses pulling back spending in anticipation of a pronounced economic slowdown. Even though COVID-19 infection rates grew worse through the end of 2020, economic expectations recovered and the uncertainty around how COVID-19 would impact business results diminished, putting cloud revenue growth from the leading vendors back on previous trajectories. Though the business strategy and dynamics were much changed, the continued growth of the leading firms was back on track.

In many ways, COVID-19 accelerated but did not actually alter the course of cloud technology’s impact on the IT market. As a delivery method, cloud was already eroding traditional IT and far outpacing the overall growth in spending. Most customers had some level of cloud investment prior to 2020, with many using cloud solutions for mission-critical elements of their enterprises. After a year of dealing with pandemic-driven disruption, cloud utilization has grown significantly. Cloud adoption happened faster than most organizations planned moving into 2020, as business changes forced customers to overcome cultural, budgetary and technological barriers in making adjustments to their operations. The good news for cloud vendors is that this change in behavior should last well beyond the direct impacts of COVID-19. The challenge is how to meet this enhanced level of demand, which requires investment now to get additional data center capacity and services online ahead of increased needs. The market may have reached this place eventually, but both customers and vendors are accelerating their cloud strategies to account for the more prominent role cloud will play in the overall IT market moving forward, even as COVID-19 fades, hopefully sooner rather than later.

5G network investment will push Capex for NFV and SDN

“TBR expects the use of white-box hardware in NFV / SDN environments will proliferate, accounting for 60 percent of NFV / SDN hardware spend in 2023, up from 15 percent in 2018. This industry shift toward white-box hardware will significantly disrupt incumbent OEMs’ business models, prompting them to evolve into software-centric companies.”

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CSPs accelerate 5G deployments to realize the significant cost efficiencies that are inherent in the technology

According to TBR’s 1Q19 5G Telecom Market Landscape, though a viable business case for operators to grow revenue from 5G has yet to materialize (with the exception of fixed wireless broadband), the main driver for operators to deploy 5G is realizing the efficiency gains the technology provides over LTE.

Operators in developed markets worldwide have accelerated their 5G deployment timetables over the past year, primarily because 5G is a significantly more cost-effective solution to handle rising data traffic in their traditional connectivity businesses but also to remain competitive in their respective markets.

TBR estimates over 80% of 5G capex spend through 2020 will be driven by operators in four countries: the U.S., China, Japan and South Korea, with the remaining 20% of spend through 2020 predominantly stemming from Europe and developed countries in the Middle East and APAC that have relatively small populations. Most Tier 1 operators in these countries have aggressive 5G rollout timetables and intend to leverage the technology for fixed wireless broadband and/or to support their mobile broadband densification initiatives. The seamless software upgradability of new RAN platforms to 5G will facilitate deployment at incremental cost, keeping overall spend scaling quickly but at a relatively low level compared to prior RAN generation upgrades.

TBR’s 5G Telecom Market Landscape tracks the 5G-related initiatives of leading operators and vendors worldwide. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the global 5G ecosystem and includes insights pertaining to market development, market sizing, use cases, adoption, regional trends, and operator and vendor positioning and strategies.

Progress report: State of the NFV/SDN telecom market

Insight’s from TBR’s 1Q19 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape

The NFV/SDN ecosystem continues to advance and leading communication service providers (CSPs) are making progress on their NFV/SDN-related initiatives, but full transformation is still years away as industry challenges remain. Join Telecom Senior Analysts Chris Antlitz and Michael Soper for an in-depth review of TBR’s latest report on the NFV/SDN telecom market landscape.

Don’t miss:

  • Examples of how leading CSPs are progressing on their NFV/SDN-related initiatives
  • How NFV and SDN adoption will impact global CSP capex and opex spend through 2022
  • Why 5G will push CSPs to accelerate and broaden their NFV/SDN-related initiatives
  • Which vendors are outperforming in the NFV/SDN space

 

 

TBR webinars are held typically on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].

NFV/SDN prepares operators to support 5G-era use cases

Infographic explaining how nfv and sdnwill prepare operators to support 5G-era use casesOperators are under pressure to invest in these technologies

Operators will further adoption of virtualized network solutions by capitalizing on 5G use cases and strengthening security capabilities. Integrating NFV and SDN technologies will enable operators to more effectively support network technologies that will become prevalent in the 5G era, including network slicing and edge computing, which will play a pivotal role in supporting 5G use cases such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT). The flexibility and agility of network slicing will enable operators to remove unnecessary functionality (e.g., sunsetting a noncore service) while launching services on command. Edge computing will allow operators to support 5G use cases that require ultra-low latency, such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR).

Operators are under pressure to invest in NFV and SDN to reduce total capex and opex spend as well as introduce new services and stay competitive as they prepare to offer 5G services and search for new network use cases. The flexibility and scalability offered by NFV and SDN is particularly appealing to operator enterprise customers, which are expanding their operations and are undergoing digital transformation initiatives such as utilizing multicloud environments, incorporating IoT solutions, and integrating digital customer service and sales portals. Software-mediated network services are enabling businesses to deploy applications and provide connectivity to new branches more quickly, which is particularly important to customers in verticals that frequently add new locations, such as retail.

The shift to software-defined network architectures is extremely disruptive to the vendor community. Incumbent network vendors are under increasing pressure to move up the network value chain, from hardware to software and software-related services. They are increasingly disrupted by the adoption of white-box hardware and the utilization of ODMs as operators search for avenues to reduce network costs. Deploying white boxes provides significant cost savings for operators as well as greater flexibility by allowing carriers to deploy the most appropriate virtual network functions for their environments without being limited by the constraints of propriety hardware. Though the ODM threat has not manifested in the telecom operator customer segment to the extent it has in the webscale segment, incumbent vendors must remain on alert and attempt to mitigate this threat. TBR believes the best course of action is for vendors to embrace the movement of value in the network from the hardware layer to the software layer. This could include embracing open-source code and layering in proprietary software to differentiate. For most incumbents, scaling quickly through acquisition is preferable.

For more information, contact Senior Analyst Michael Soper at [email protected].

5G drives network transformation

The shift from connecting people (pre-5G era) to connecting everything (5G era) will require an architectural overhaul of telecom networks. A true 5G network will not only leverage new radios but also be inherently cloud-native, virtualized, programmable and automated and provide near-limitless capacity at ultra-low latency. This will require transformation across the entire network, not just at the access layer.

Network transformation moves from industry buzz phrase to reality

The telecom industry has discussed network transformation for years, though its amorphous meaning is beginning to take shape and materialize. TBR is seeing communication service providers (CSPs) transform into digital service providers (DSPs) propelled by ICT convergence, NFV/SDN, cloud, 5G, big data and analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These trends and technologies are helping operators evolve their networks from being rigid, slow, static, reactive and closed to being flexible, fast, dynamic and open.

Some of the trends contributing to this shift include moving from on-premises/physical networks leveraging black boxes to cloudified/virtualized networks leveraging white boxes. Hardware-defined networks were capex-driven, whereas the future of the network is software-defined and opex-driven. This evolution allows operators to more quickly and easily launch offerings for new revenue streams and reduce network costs over time.

Though NFV and SDN adoption has been slow, some Tier 1 operators are progressing with their plans and reaping benefits. Integrating NFV and SDN capabilities will enable operators to more effectively support network technologies that will become prevalent in the 5G era, such as network slicing and edge computing, which will play a pivotal role in supporting 5G use cases such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT). Operators are under pressure to invest in NFV and SDN to reduce total capex and opex spend as well as introduce new services and stay competitive in the data-driven digital economy, which is increasingly dominated by webscale and over-the-top players.

5G is taking up greater mindshare as commercial deployments begin

Operator networks must ultimately be overhauled to fully realize the potential 5G has to offer, though it will take operators many years to evolve their networks end-to-end. In the meantime, the current focus, and 5G-related capex spend, will be on 5G radios. The potential cost savings offered by 5G is spurring operators to accelerate their deployment timelines, pulling them forward by as much as two years. Efficiency gains remain the main driver to deploy 5G, as a viable business case for operators to grow revenue from 5G has yet to materialize (with the exception of fixed wireless broadband). 5G, which is expected to provide between four- and 10-times greater efficiency on a cost-per-gigabyte basis compared to LTE, will enable operators to more cost-effectively add network capacity to support the prevalence of unlimited data plans as well as continued connected device additions.

There are myriad ideas for new network use cases that 5G could enable, but ROI remains suspect. The most economically viable use case thus far for net-new revenue generation from 5G is fixed wireless broadband. In 2020-2025, which TBR believes will represent the “renaissance” phase of 5G, there will be a plethora of new use cases for the network, particularly in the areas of augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), smart city, IoT and robotics.

Realizing the full benefits of 5G requires significant investment across the network, not just in the access layer. Operators will invest in fiber, spectrum, massive MIMO (multiple input and multiple output), carrier aggregation, NFV/SDN and cloud RAN (C-RAN), which will provide opportunity for vendors. Though positioned well in key early 5G markets, incumbent vendors are threatened with disruption from NFV/SDN-centric firms, particularly firms in the areas of virtual RAN and mobile core. TBR estimates over 85% of 5G capex spend through 2020 will be driven by operators in four countries: U.S., China, Japan and South Korea. Most Tier 1 operators in these countries have aggressive 5G rollout timetables and intend to leverage the technology for fixed wireless broadband and/or to support their mobile broadband densification initiatives.

TBR covers these topics in depth in its operator, vendor, 5G, NFV/SDN and webscale research streams.

NFV/SDN prepares operators to support 5G era use cases and helps drive network efficiencies

According to TBR’s 3Q18 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape, operators will further adoption of virtualized network solutions by capitalizing on 5G use cases and strengthening security capabilities. Integrating NFV and SDN technologies will enable operators to more effectively support network technologies that will become prevalent in the 5G era, including network slicing and edge computing, which will play a pivotal role in supporting 5G use cases such as advanced Internet of Things (IoT).

Operators are under pressure to invest in NFV and SDN to reduce total capex and opex spend as well as introduce new services and stay competitive as they prepare to offer 5G services and search for new network use cases. The shift to software-defined network architectures is extremely disruptive to the vendor community.

Graph showing total NFV/SDN spend by capex and external opex for 2017 through 2022

Incumbent network vendors are under increasing pressure to move up the network value chain, from hardware to software and software-related services. They are increasingly disrupted by the adoption of white-box hardware and the utilization of ODMs as operators search for avenues to reduce network costs. Deploying white boxes provides significant cost savings for operators as well as greater flexibility by allowing carriers to deploy the most appropriate virtual network functions for their environments without being limited by the constraints of propriety hardware. Though the ODM threat has not manifested in the telecom operator customer segment to the extent it has in the webscale segment, incumbent vendors must remain on alert and attempt to mitigate this threat.

The NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape includes key findings, market size, customer adoption, operator positioning and strategies, geographic adoption, vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].

 

Super 7 webscale total capex spend will reach $123B in 2022

Infographic showing webscale "Super 7" capex forecast for 2017 through 2022

 

Data center builds and expansions as well as AI investment drive growth

According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 3Q18 Webscale ICT Market Landscape, webscale ICT capex for the “Super 7” will grow at a 26.2% CAGR from 2017 to 2022 to more than $69 billion as these top webscales aim to future-proof business-critical infrastructure and map network capacity to data traffic growth, which is expected to increase exponentially through the forecast period.

Webscales are investing tens of billions of dollars in new data centers, either to support their core businesses or to increase the scale of their cloud services businesses. Capex spend is spiking in 2018 as many of the Super 7 build new facilities on land they acquired in 2017. Amazon’s 30.4% year-to-year ICT capex growth rate in 2018 is noticeably lower than that of its peers, which is largely due to its leading presence in the cloud services market. Challengers Microsoft, Alphabet and Alibaba will grow 2018 ICT capex 73.6%, 100.3%, and 101.6%, respectively, year-to-year in a bid to catch up to market leader Amazon Web Services.

The OEM landscape is being upended as webscales embrace ODMs and open-source technology. A growing number of ODMs aim to take share from incumbent hardware vendors such as Cisco and Dell EMC. Webscales often possess the talent necessary to design their own equipment, then outsource production to an ODM. In these instances, the software is disaggregated from the hardware and the code is written by webscale software engineers. This threat gives webscales negotiating power over incumbents. Some vendors, such as Cisco, mitigating the threat from ODMs with acquisitions, strong customer relationships and litigation.

For more information, contact Senior Analyst Michael Soper at [email protected].

Data center builds and expansions, along with AI investments, will drive webscale ‘Super 7’ ICT capex to $69B by 2022

HAMPTON, N.H. (Sept. 6, 2018) According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 3Q18 Webscale ICT Market Landscape, webscale ICT capex for the “Super 7” will grow at a 26.2% CAGR to over $69 billion in 2022 as these top webscales aim to future-proof business-critical infrastructure and map network capacity to data traffic growth, which is expected to increase exponentially through the forecast period. Webscales are investing tens of billions of dollars in new data centers, either to support their core businesses or to increase the scale of their cloud services businesses.

“Capex spend is spiking in 2018 as the Super 7 build new facilities on land acquired in 2017. Amazon’s 30.4% ICT capex growth rate in 2018 is noticeably lower than its peers, which is largely due to its leading presence in the cloud services market,” said Michael Soper, a senior analyst at TBR. “Challengers Microsoft, Alphabet and Alibaba will grow 2018 ICT capex 73.6%, 100.3%, and 101.6%, respectively, year-to-year in a bid to catch up to market leader Amazon Web Services.”

The OEM landscape is being upended as webscales embrace ODMs and open-source technology. A growing number of ODMs aim to take share from incumbent hardware vendors such as Cisco and Dell EMC. Webscales often possess the talent necessary to design their own equipment, then outsource production to an ODM. In these instances, the software is disaggregated from the hardware and the code is written by webscale software engineers. This threat gives webscales negotiating power over incumbents. Cisco is mitigating the threat from ODMs with acquisitions, strong customer relationships and litigation.

TBR’s Webscale ICT Market Landscape tracks the ICT-related initiatives of the seven largest webscale companies in the world, known as the Super 7, which includes Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, Microsoft and Tencent. The report provides a market assessment, deep dives into company strategies and analyzes capex trends, particularly as they pertain to ICT. Vendors are also covered from the perspective of relative opportunities with webscale companies as customers.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.758.1803 or [email protected].

ABOUT TBR

Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

TBR has been empowering corporate decision makers since 1996. For more information please visit www.tbri.com.

NFV/SDN will account for over one-quarter of CSP capex and external opex spend in 2022

HAMPTON, N.H. — According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) latest NFV/SDN Telecom Market Forecast, covering 2017 to 2022, mainstream adoption of NFV/SDN is now set for the early 2020s due to operators encountering challenges with migration.

“Despite challenges, operators will push forward with NFV/SDN and will scale their investments in these technologies,” said TBR Telecom Senior Analyst Chris Antlitz. “Operators must transform to stay relevant and competitive in the digital era, and NFV/SDN is a critical component of that transformation.”

During the forecast period, 5G will also serve as an underlying catalyst for increased NFV/SDN spend. 5G will push operators to adopt a new network architecture, and virtualization will be a critical aspect of networks.

TBR’s annual NFV/SDN Telecom Market Forecast projects spend on NFV, SDN and related services across key segments globally and by region.

Additional research on the NFV and SDN markets can be found in TBR’s NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape and Telecom Software Mediated Networks (NFV/SDN) Customer Adoption Study, which cover the operator and vendor landscapes and operator purchasing decisions regarding NFV and SDN, respectively.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].

 

ABOUT TBR

Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

TBR has been empowering corporate decision makers since 1996. For more information please visit www.tbri.com.