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A Partnership Is Only as Good as Its Weakest Member
Denise Culver | Research Analyst
The industry faces a large learning curve over the next five years.

And as network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) take root in telecom networks, technology suppliers that establish strong partnerships and ecosystems will be in the best position to emerge as NFV/SDN market leaders.
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NFV Partnerships Underscore Importance of Collaboration
Network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) solutions are deployable, scalable and available, and they meet or exceed the performance requirements of numerous markets. Most significant is that NFV brings both cloud computing and information technology (IT) capabilities into the telecom industry. Because they are developed using an open infrastructure that requires no vendor lock-in, service providers can deliver new services to their customers more quickly, while significantly reducing both operating and capital expenditures.

To maximize the average revenue per user (ARPU) associated with existing voice services and to avoid turning into a "me too" commodity service, service providers must become more agile and flexible, rolling out additional revenue generating services rapidly and repeatable. While NFV provides the ability to roll out services rapidly, a wide ecosystem allows operators to choose the best solutions possible and deliver an extensive range of unique value-added services. Session border control (SBC) is likely to be one of the most deployed virtualized network functions (VNFs) because it has the potential to save tremendous amounts of time and shorten the speed-to-market cycle, which is something every service provider wants to see.

The industry faces a large learning curve over the next five years; given the number of new technology components involved in enabling network functions to run in the cloud, this is not an area any single vendor or service provider can tackle on its own. Indeed, at this point there are more than enough partnerships and ecosystems that exist to meet the needs of any operator or vendor interested in NFV. The goal now is to see some market consolidation so the best options rise to the top.

To be successful in this new environment, companies that want to be leaders in SDN or NFV must not only transform products, services, form factors and business models, they also must develop a new class of partner ecosystems.

This new demand for viable and complete SDN/NFV solutions means even the largest network infrastructure companies must partner and collaborate with other suppliers to integrate their products and services with other vendors' products, confirm that each element works together and document what is required for the different elements to function together.

To make their own solutions more attractive for customers, suppliers will need to work with other vendors to give customers a complete list of the different hardware and software elements needed create a whole solution, as well as instructions on how to install and configure each element to make all the pieces work.

NFV Partnerships Underscore Importance of Collaboration examines the market for NFV partnerships and ecosystems, analyzing features of top ecosystems and partnerships, as well as areas of growth expected in the market over the next two years. It discusses drivers and challenges in the industry and includes a comparative analysis of solutions available. Finally, it examines the geographic landscape of the market and details trends that are likely to occur in the industry over the next 18-24 months.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (spiti0415_toc_2.pdf)
As shown in the following excerpt, the strongest driver for being a part of a NFV partnership/ecosystem is the need to accelerate NFV rollouts. The ability to roll out new NFV services requires the ability to operationalize VNFs. This means the ability to deploy virtual machines (VMs), onboard them, monitor them, scale resources for them, service chain them to other virtual and physical resources, track alarms and do trouble-shooting on the fly and gracefully provide alternative services and paths should the main ones fail. This requires an intelligent orchestrator that also works with legacy OSSs/BSSs and multi-vendor infrastructures.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies analyzed in this report include: 6WIND S.A.; Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD); Cyan Inc. (NYSE: CYNI); Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ); The Linux Foundation; Metaswitch Networks Ltd.; Midokura Inc.; Nakina Systems Inc.; NetCracker Technology Corp., a subsidiary of NEC Corp. (TYO: 6701); Overture Networks Inc.; Procera Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: PKT); RAD Data Communications Ltd., a division of RAD Group; Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT); and Wind River Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).
Total pages: 22
APRIL 2015
Orchestration for NFV: Specialists Carve Out a Niche
This report examines how smaller and specialist vendors of network equipment and OSS/BSS are approaching the challenge of delivering solutions for NFV orchestration. The report looks at the work that is being done to advance the technical and commercial cases for NFV among operators, and where smaller and specialist vendors fit in. Finally, it suggests how these vendors compete against the network equipment providers and larger OSS/BSS players, and profiles nine leading specialist vendors.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
JANUARY 2015
Leveraging Cloud Mobility to Enhance Enterprise/SMB Services
This report reviews the cloud mobility for enterprise and SMB segments. It goes on to discuss business customer demands and fending off OTT competition. Finally it covers differentiation in enterprise offerings in the market.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
DECEMBER 2014
Orchestration for NFV: The Big Players' View
This report examines NFV orchestration, and the battle for mind-share among industry bodies. It considers how services built of VNFs are managed through their lifecycle, and the ways vendors are responding to the challenge of delivering NFV MANO platforms. It profiles 11 vendors, describing their NFV orchestration strategies and relevant products, solutions and services.
READ SUMMARY
Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
ANALYST
Caroline Chappell
Caroline writes the Services Software Insider research newsletter, addressing the latest developments telecom service delivery technology.
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Caroline Chappell
CONTACT AUTHOR
ANALYST
Denise Culver
Denise is the author of IP Services Insider. She has more than ten years' experience in technology journalism.
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Denise Culver
CONTACT AUTHOR
ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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