As we head toward MWC, Doyle Research is highlighting five observations from a recent survey of leading communications industry software providers. These independent software vendors (ISVs) indicate the likelihood of a long, phased deployment of 5G, more SD-WAN managed services and the need for more network software talent to drive NFV.
This analysis is derived from discussions via phone with 50 leading communications industry software providers, including Tier 1 and Tier 2 network equipment providers, SD-WAN, NOS/middleware, network security, 5G software (both edge and core) and IT suppliers with communications software products.
All discussions occurred in early 2019. This diverse group of ISVs—large and small—is a large representative sample of the NFV software ecosystem driving new deployments among CSPs.
5G will coexist with 4G
The migration to 5G is a long evolutionary process—at least five to seven years—with most CSPs upgrading different parts of their network to be 5G ready in a phased approach. CSPs are selecting specific geographies (e.g., cities) to roll out their first 5G networks and test the demand for specific services including fixed wireless, IoT, 4K video, connected car and AR/VR, among others. They plan to upgrade the individual components of their network—core, RAN and backhaul—in many cases independently as part of their requirements to upgrade network capacity and to support the billions of existing 4G users (and handsets). In addition, the migration to 5G is likely to require significantly more cell sites, macro and micro.
SD-WAN is red hot, vCPE is not
Managed SD-WAN deployments via partnerships with leading SD-WAN suppliers remains the hottest trend in the $40 billion market for managed business services. vCPE deployments continue to lag in terms of functionality and time to market due to interoperability challenges and complexity.
Large NEPs will continue to dominate 5G deployments
5G requires a new architecture for the mobile core, RAN and of course, new handsets. This could represent an opportunity for the smaller suppliers to deploy innovative products, such as vRAN. The early 5G trends, and momentum for 2019, shows the traditional large wireless suppliers—Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and ZTE— accounting for most of the 5G revenues due to their experience in deploying highly reliable wireless networks.
Talent gap for NFV and communications software
Moving to software-based architectures such as NFV continues to be very challenging. Most current NFV deployments are single VNF (virtual network functions) with multi-VNF use cases coming this year and next year. The industry needs more experienced network software talent across ISVs, system integrators and communication service providers to make network software as interoperable, scalable and reliable as the IT industry.
Intel Architecture is winning most NFV use cases
Most of the ISVs surveyed report NFV deployments on Intel Architecture (IA or x86) platforms across standard servers and appliances. Only a few currently support alternative silicon platforms such as Arm.
Lee Doyle is principal analyst at Doyle Research, providing client-focused targeted analysis on the evolution of intelligent networks. He has over 25 years’ experience analyzing the IT, network, and telecom markets. Lee has written extensively on such topics as SDN, NFV, enterprise adoption of networking technologies, and IT-Telecom convergence. Before founding Doyle Research, Lee was group VP for network, telecom, and security research at IDC. Lee holds a B.A. in economics from Williams College. He can be reached at [email protected]; follow him @leedoyle_dc.
Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceTelecom staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceTelecom.