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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].

Canonical’s growth play: Make customers’ and partners’ lives easier (and more economical)

TBR perspective

At Canonical’s 2018 Analyst Day, CEO Mark Shuttleworth laid out a very compelling construct for Canonical’s vision of being the link between the operating system (OS) layer and the cloud control planes. Canonical has Ubuntu OS versions to run from the largest high-performance computers with NVIDIA graphics processing units to the smallest device OSes at the heart of offers from niche vendors such as Rigado. Throughout the event, Canonical stressed multicloud interoperability through Kubernetes. The big unknown on the horizon is how to provision infrastructure for edge analytics, which sits at the heart of the strategic relationship Canonical has with Google Cloud as Google donates Borg to ensure Kubernetes does not challenge Borg the way Hadoop forked from MapReduce.

Existing virtualization economics has stalled, with premium pricing models emerging from the major and better-established competitors Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and VMware (NYSE: VMW). The Canonical play further compresses the economics of the infrastructure abstraction and OS components, where parts will be provided for free and the services and update provisions will become the basis for the monetization model. Akin to how free Android disaggregated the device OS space and gained share against Microsoft, Canonical bets on market projections showing devices used/owned per person growing from two to three devices today to as many as 20 devices within the next five years.

It is from this vantage point that one open-source Linux distro, Canonical’s Ubuntu, was taking direct competitive aim at another (Red Hat), while likewise suggesting VMware’s time as the market maker would quickly start to fade as more and more app modernization efforts move code from virtual machines (VMs) into lightweight Kubernetes containers (clusters).

 

Canonical hosted its 2018 Analyst Day in New York City on Sept. 20, 2018. The event featured presentations from the top leadership at Canonical, including Shuttleworth, Finance Director Seb Butter, SVP of Global Data Centre Sales Jeff Lattomus, and VP of Global Sales, IoT & Devices Tom Canning. Canonical focused on business and go-to-market updates as well as key presentations by partners, such as Paul Nash from Google Cloud, outlining how Canonical has accelerated or added value to their businesses. At this year’s event, there was a noticeable blurring of the lines between cloud and IoT discussions in comparison to years past where there were more definitive tracks. Regarding both Canonical’s own strategy and its conversations with customers, it is exceedingly difficult to have a discussion about one and not the other, which is reflected in the broader IT landscape as of late.

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].