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Enterprises Seek SDN Expertise from Providers as Demand Increases

ISG Provider Lens™ report sees enterprises across the globe looking to SDN technologies to improve customer service and better enable remote working

Enterprises are looking to software-defined networking technologies to cut networking costs, become more agile, better serve customers and better support employee remote working, according to a new report published today by Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

The ISG Provider LensNetworks – Software Defined Solutions and Services Archetype Report also finds providers of SDN solutions and services experimenting with many new products and services as enterprise demand for SDN technologies increases. Many providers are involved in production-level deployments, while others are focused on specific SDN services such as edge networking or private enterprise 5G.

“Many new SDN-related technologies, methods and processes are in a trial stage,” said Dieter Thompson, president, ISG Network Solutions. “This evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, approach, taken together with the relative newness of SD networking, suggests there’s significant volatility in the SD networking provider market that’s likely to intensify in the near future.”

The ISG Provider LensNetworks ­– Software Defined Solutions and Services Archetype Report examines provider capabilities based on different types of clients, or archetypes, that are looking for SDN-related technologies. The report evaluates the capabilities of 46 SDN providers to deliver services to the four archetypes:

Moderate Transformers: These clients may be mid- to large-sized enterprises, often with their own data centers and some, but not necessarily deep, experience in sourcing or hosting their services. They may still be on the journey toward business-focused and integrated solutions, with a clear aspiration and plan to have networks enable business differentiation and performance and cost improvements. They will usually be on the path toward SD networks and multi-cloud environments. Their IT and networks groups will seek out new technologies that demonstrate clear value or solve specific business issues, or when forced to adopt by other business areas. Cost reduction over current network models will be a big driver for these buyers and they will seek the best price and performance wherever possible.

Aggressive Adopters: These clients may be mid- to large-sized enterprises and have deep experience in sourcing their services. They have evolved from legacy siloed solutions and will not have networks as a disjointed function, but rather a function that, together with the rest of IT, enables business differentiation. They have already deployed SD networks and multi-cloud environments or are heading in that direction. They will have a roadmap for transformation and are under pressure to accelerate the plan, migrating from MPLS/IP-centric carrier plans toward SD-based solutions. These clients will take best-of-breed, fully managed solutions from across the market and will look for a solution aimed at lowering costs while achieving business goals such as accelerating revenue growth and improving customer experience, together with enabling a remote workforce.

Advanced Edge Adopters: These clients may be mid- to large-sized enterprises with deep experience in consuming managed services. They understand the power and need for edge/branch and multi-cloud-based networks, and want to move more functionalities and compute to the edge, while also utilizing mobile edge as a differentiator, allowing more flexibility and remote working. They will have a roadmap for transformation and are under pressure to accelerate the plan, migrating more functionalities and compute resources to the edge and away from centralized resources. These clients will look at best-of-breed, fully managed solutions from across the market and adopt a solution aimed at achieving business goals such as rapid service and transport delivery and improvement in customer service delivery and experience, together with enabling a remote dispersed workforce.

Bleeding Edge and Disruption Embracers: These enterprises are small to mid-sized, with fewer internal resources, typically “born digital,” without significant legacy infrastructure. They have SD-WAN deployments to support newer, managed networks, possibly with SD-LAN, SD-WLAN and branch/edge solutions, with ready to deploy or existing multi-cloud-based, disruptive applications and consume these as DIY, co-managed or managed services, without difficulty. They are happy with "best of breed" solutions, technology or services in particular sub areas of their overall network, although they will want strong orchestration and single pane of glass monitoring and management functions. They typically are not looking for a major support from their vendors, but are looking for good price points for the purchase of equipment and services. Increasing revenue is a driver behind their strategy, coupled with improving flexibility and agility.

Among the providers ISG evaluated, AT&T and Verizon were named leaders across all four archetypes and Apcela, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile, Orange Business Service and Wipro were named leaders across three archetypes. Cato Networks, Extreme Networks, HPE Aruba, IBM and Juniper Networks were named leaders across two archetypes, and Aryaka, HCL, Infosys, Lumen, NTT, Nuage Networks and Vodafone were named leaders across one.

The ISG Provider LensNetworks – Software Defined Solutions and Services Archetype Report is available to subscribers or for immediate, one-time purchase on this webpage.

About ISG Provider Lens™ Research

The ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant research series is the only service provider evaluation of its kind to combine empirical, data-driven research and market analysis with the real-world experience and observations of ISG's global advisory team. Enterprises will find a wealth of detailed data and market analysis to help guide their selection of appropriate sourcing partners, while ISG advisors use the reports to validate their own market knowledge and make recommendations to ISG's enterprise clients. The research currently covers providers offering their services globally, across Europe, as well as in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., France, the Nordics, Brazil and Australia/New Zealand, with additional markets to be added in the future. For more information about ISG Provider Lens research, please visit this webpage.

A companion research series, the ISG Provider Lens Archetype reports, offer a first-of-its-kind evaluation of providers from the perspective of specific buyer types.

About ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (Nasdaq: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including more than 75 of the world’s top 100 enterprises, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis. Founded in 2006, and based in Stamford, Conn., ISG employs more than 1,300 digital-ready professionals operating in more than 20 countries—a global team known for its innovative thinking, market influence, deep industry and technology expertise, and world-class research and analytical capabilities based on the industry’s most comprehensive marketplace data. For more information, visit


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