Alibaba: Potential ZTEsoft Acquisition Ambitions Signal Competitive Upheaval in Telco Software Market

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• Alibaba generated industry headlines during the summer of 2017 due to speculation it was poised to acquire ZTEsoft and heavily invest in China Unicom.

• While the rumored acquisition has yet to take place, Alibaba’s potential expansion into the telco software realm affirms the expanding influence of Webscale platforms in telco software architecture evolution and telco digital business models.

Throughout the summer of 2017, Alibaba’s potential acquisition of ZTE’s software unit, ZTEsoft, for ~$440 million and a large investment in China Unicom produced widespread speculation that the Webscale stalwart is ready to expand its presence in the telco software segment. Alibaba covets ZTEsoft’s software assets to strengthen its hand in driving the build-out of cloud and mobile services throughout telco networks, especially data center applications. The rumored acquisition underlines the growing trend of telcos investing more in software-centric solutions, such as software-defined networking (SDN), DevOps, and OpenStack, to prepare their networks to meet the massive scaling demands of Webscale-originated traffic including 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) services. This includes delivering the intelligence and flexibility required to support vast, low-latency throughput among the data centers that serve the most popular Webscale brands, including Alibaba. Read more of this post