To be successful network transformation partners for their carrier customers, network equipment providers (NEPs) must become more agile organizations. They must develop teams to deliver DevsOps-based software solutions and/or acquire companies built on the nimble and scalable principles larger vendors need to adopt. As of September 4, 2018, Ericsson can better position itself against peers for analytics-enabled service assurance and end-to-end network visibility due to its acquisition of CENX. This gives the NEP increased service assurance capabilities and greater agility as a CSP partner for network transformation.
Network transformation has become an agile vendor's opportunity. The evolving service assurance opportunity is generating significant interest, attracting vendors with network or telco IT backgrounds, as well as those with analytics and automation capabilities.
This month, Ericsson acquired service assurance and network analytics firm CENX. CENX's closed-loop automation software and service assurance capabilities can incorporate network data from multiple domains and from both physical and virtual infrastructure.
Ericsson knows it needs to get on board with the service assurance game. Traditional NEPs are struggling to deliver the agility and DevOps environment needed to further network transformation momentum. With its acquisition of CENX, Ericsson gains additional software capabilities that are in high demand without having to train incumbent staff; it also moves closer to providing an end-to-end network transformation portfolio. Ericsson must ensure that it acts quickly to displace competitors and/or expand incumbent CSP relationships.
Although vendors may be lining up to provide support with next-generation service assurance, it will not be enough to deliver on the capabilities necessary for strong service assurance alone, which include real-time network monitoring; multilayer troubleshooting; a strong policy-driven approach; and advanced analytics. Vendors must come to market with offerings that can deal with the increasing complexity of the partnership ecosystem. This will require service assurance solutions that are not just well integrated with other systems but able to deal with the wide variety of proprietary and open source standards and embrace open APIs.
The acquisition of CENX is clearly a step in the right direction for Ericsson. It will be interesting to see how agile Ericsson will become in its service assurance integration. Although it may have service assurance in its network transformation portfolio, the company will still have to participate in the open community, avoid trying to lock in its carrier customer base, and continue to grow its partnership ecosystem.
Stephanie Gibbons, Principal Analyst, Network Infrastructure and Software