Open source NFV/SDN disrupting vendor-operator relationships: TBR

October 10th, 2017 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by Fiona Chau, and was originally posted on

Open source continues to upend traditional supplier-operator relationships as Tier 1 operators explore ways to scale NFV and SDN deployments, according to TBR’s 3Q17 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape report.

The TBR study finds that the telecoms industry is moving forward in commercial deployments of open source-based solutions, most notably through commercial applications of OpenStack for virtual infrastructure management (VIM).

As early adopter operators become more comfortable leveraging open-source code internally, TBR expects other operators will hasten their acceptance and usage of open source to reduce vendor lock-in and move to webscale-like frameworks.

“Tier 1 operator adopters are looking more to the open-source community for answers about how to scale up NFV and SDN,” TBR telecom analyst Patrick Filkins said. “These decisions remain challenging, though, as moving to open source requires investment in new skill sets, a step many operators outside the Tier 1 community are ill-equipped to undertake.”

Additionally, software-mediated adoption continues to impact the traditional supplier landscape as pure play SD-WAN suppliers win roles with Tier 1 operators.

In US alone, the research firm says, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, CenturyLink, Level 3 and Sprint have introduced SD-WAN capabilities into their networks, with most contracting pure play suppliers, such as VeloCloud and Versa Networks, to provide the SD-WAN platform.

To counter this threat, incumbent vendors may follow in Cisco’s path and acquire these smaller, nimbler competitors, or risk losing out on key opportunities, TBR predicts.

“As the impact to hardware sales from software-mediated adoption becomes more pronounced over the next couple of years, telecom vendors are investing to align with operators’ consumption models and drive recurring sales of software and services, “ TBR said in a research note.

TBR says Cisco’s transition is most aggressive, primarily fueled by a steady cadence of software-based acquisitions and internal changes. Nokia, Juniper and Huawei have also acquired software firms within the last year, with a focus on security, application management and service orchestration.

“Acquisitions such as these will enable equipment suppliers to increase exposure to software opportunities and partially offset the impact from weaker hardware sales,” the research firm noted.

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