The Year in Telecom Vendor Services Support

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • 2015 was characterized by increased support for IT services and traction regarding vendor strategic ambitions related to VoLTE, small cells, vertical markets, and embarking on SDN/NFV commercialization
  • As LTE build-outs reach completion in a number of regions, operators have turned their investment to improving capacity, density, and the user experience
  • Managed services contracts continued a steady pace, although operator demand for value creation within engagements leaves work to be done for vendors

While the industry begins its ramp-up to Mobile World Congress and another year of services engagements, aimed at technology migration and network transformation, it’s a good time to look back on the year that was in vendor services support. The year in professional and managed services was characterized by continued growth of IT services and increased traction for vendor strategic ambitions including VoLTE, small cells, vertical markets, and SDN/NFV commercialization. With regard to IT services engagements specifically, solutions that accounted for a quarter of overall activity in 2012 now make up over half of the service engagement tracking database at Current Analysis.
the way, we’re excited to see the road ahead.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Key Findings from Current Analysis’ 2015 Carrier SDN/NFV Survey

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • In 2015, Current Analysis surveyed 100 decision makers at network operators regarding challenges facing network deployments, what they need most from their vendors, and which suppliers they view most favorably.
  • Although a key focus of vendor messaging in 2015 was helping operators to operationalize SDN/NFV, operators are facing more fundamental questions standing in the way of their decision to fully embrace network virtualization: uncertain ROI.
  • When asked what one thing operators feel the SDN/NFV supplier community is not adequately addressing, VNF performance dominated the responses. A word cloud below summarizes the key responses, with the size of each word corresponding to the frequency in which they appeared in the response results.
  • Cisco and Huawei have topped SDN/NFV vendor perception results for the past several years. However, IT-oriented suppliers – namely HP and IBM – made up considerable ground in 2015, now ranking closely behind Cisco and Huawei as top perceived SDN/NFV suppliers.
  • Ericsson also made a considerable jump in perception to round out the ‘Top 5’ in terms of best perceived vendors in the survey.

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Not Provocative, but Indispensable: Knowledge Transfer within SDN/NFV Services Engagements

Summary Bullets:
• Knowledge transfer is a relatively dull concept with regard to services engagements, but remains a business imperative for telecom services vendors
• The concept has grown in importance as optimization and consulting engagements have grown more complex
• Considering the complexity surrounding SDN/NFV projects, it stands to reason knowledge transfer abilities will become increasingly more important

One of the projects we took on this year at Current Analysis was a report determining the current state of professional services offerings for SDN/NFV and what is to come in the future. Looming virtualization projects are something of a different animal for the telecom industry, requiring new skills, talent, and portfolios. Vendors have done well to incorporate these changes into their messaging, but there’s an aspect of transformation that has flown under the radar. We felt we should shed some light on it.

Rarely highlighted in vendor messaging, but implicitly acknowledged as a component of professional services engagements, knowledge transfer is a critical part of most services engagements, especially when those projects deal with deploying and/or optimizing new technologies. As optimization and consulting engagements have grown more complex, the ability to transfer knowledge obtained or actioned during a service engagement has grown as well. Ultimately, if the operator is left with a less than complete understanding of what was done, and, more importantly, what must be done going forward to keep the network running optimally, a project can fail.

Nevertheless, it’s no surprise then that something as mundane as knowledge transfer is largely left out when discussing professional services for virtualization. For something as important as SDN/NFV the conversation has revolved around the benefits tied to the technology like scalability, flexibility, and improved time to market. Furthermore, the services requirements and organizational transformation to achieve these benefits are considerable, daunting even. It’s understandable that the concept of knowledge transfer might escape top-level services messaging.

The road to virtualization is enormously complex; few will deny it. As operators struggle to define ROI for SDN/NFV adoption, it is easy to understand why vendors are focusing their services messages on consulting and SI-type services that can help overcome some of these fundamental challenges. Nevertheless, SDN/NFV deployments will progress in 2016. As this happens, not only do operators need to fully understand the up and down stream operational and service impacts of a virtual network architecture, they also need to further comprehend how these virtualized networks will interact with their physical networks. Enter the importance of knowledge transfer. As operators face the mandate to undertake comprehensive staff re-training, a services vendor’s ability to document processes and train personnel will become an increasingly important part of any SDN/NFV services portfolio.

We’ll be paying attention to how this aspect of vendor services portfolios evolve; and we trust that all of the operators who are considering SDN and/or NFV deployments in 2016 will be as well.

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How Telecom Benefits from IoT: Life and Death Security Implications

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • Network security is moving from something that has traditionally been seen as being “baked in” to an overt aspect of vendor solution marketing as all IP-based telecom and IoT networks proliferate.
  • As IoT security steps increasingly into the light, telecom network operators and vendors have a chance to win business in a number of vertical markets that have been previously out of their “sweet spot.”

The other day, I was invited to hear Ethernet co-inventor Bob Metcalfe participate in a live stream interview at RCR Wireless’ studios in Austin, TX. During the talk, professor Metcalfe touched on a range of topics including the history of Ethernet development, entrepreneurship and IoT networking requirements. While all good stuff, the part of the interview I found most interesting dealt with IoT security, particularly as it pertains to securing the networks needed to enable driverless cars on a mass-market scale. (For those interested, the gist of the automotive security discussion begins at about 25:30 of the video). Read more of this post

NetCracker’s Analyst Day – Part II: Does SDN/NFV Have the Market in a State of Neurosis?

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • NetCracker CEO Andrew Feinberg gave a lengthy talk at its analyst conference that was candid, but also shined a light on the challenges that lie ahead for OSS/BSS vendors looking to play a central role in telecom network virtualization.
  • Network operators are ‘feeling pain’ in a variety of ways that have them interested in SDN/NFV; however, that pain has yet to result in uniform urgency related to deploying virtualized networks.

As part of his talk at NetCracker’s 2015 Analyst conference (held May 13-15 in Boston), company CEO Andrew Feinberg provided some of his insights into not only how vendors need to approach SDN/NFV strategies, but also how operators are gauging the sense of urgency with which they need to approach deployment of the technologies. Read more of this post

NetCracker’s Analyst Day – Part I: Shining a Light on the Cloud and Virtualization Ambitions

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • NetCracker CEO Andrew Feinberg gave a lengthy talk at its analyst conference that was candid, but also shined a light on the challenges that lie ahead for OSS/BSS vendors looking to play a central role in telecom network virtualization.
  • Somewhat under-marketed outside OSS/BSS circles, NetCracker’s relationship with NEC is being positioned as a ‘best-of-breed’ arrangement that results in an ‘end-to-end’ solution which encompasses both the technology and processes needed for successfully adopting SDN and/or NFV.

NetCracker might be best known as an integrated OSS/BSS platform provider, but it is also making its ambitions to be viewed as one of the market’s leading SDN/NFV technology enablers clear. At its recently concluded industry analyst conference (held in Boston from May 13 to 15), the company dedicated the entire first half of its Day 1 sessions to presentations by Andrew Feinberg (NetCracker CEO) and Phil Jordan (Telefonica Global CIO) that focused almost entirely on their respective companies’ goals and ambitions for SDN and NFV.

If you think that seems telling, we’d agree. Read more of this post

Vendors are Jumping Back on the “Being Green” Bandwagon – This Time with Real Savings to Tout

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

• Movements to increase energy efficiency and contribute to environmental sustainability are not new; however where they’ve often involved significant CapEx trade-offs to realize meaningful cost savings

• Momentum behind cloud and NFV technologies has reignited “green network” messaging, this time with orders of magnitude cost savings claims

Do anything long enough and the phrase, “Everything old is new again” will eventually play out. So, it was earlier this week, while at GENBAND’S Perspectives15 conference, that I had flashbacks to a topic du jour from many days gone by – environmental sustainability in telecom networking. The topic came up multiple times during the event, first at pre-show meetings with GENBAND execs, and then again during CEO David Walsh’s opening keynote address. Read more of this post