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It’s the Softswitch, Stupid! NFV and SDN Show What’s Old is New Again
| January 10, 2014 | IP Services Infrastructure |
| Analyst: David Snow, Principal Analyst. IP Services Infrastructure
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Take a trip back in time just over a decade and fixed softswitches were at the cutting edge of technology. That voice could be packetized over IP (or more conservatively, over ATM) and then reliably reconstituted into something intelligible at the other end was, many thought, an overly optimistic ambition. However, the fixed network transformation movement was definitely underway and both established TDM switching vendors and new VoIP entrants were battling it out for mind share and early footprint.

Among the new VoIP players were names like Cirpack, Metaswitch, NetCentrex, Sonus Networks and Veraz Networks. Looking at that same list today, it is striking that, although there was the inevitable shakeout and consolidation in the market, those new players have generally fared better than their larger adversaries. Most of their names are still recognizable either as independent companies or as brand identities retained within their acquirers. With the exception of Ericsson, however, which never gained much traction in the market anyway, all the other TDM incumbents with fixed softswitches either disappeared completely, such as Nortel, or were forced to merge with other large players for survival, like Alcatel, Lucent and Siemens, and their fixed softswitch businesses subsequently evaporated.

It is significant that these smaller fixed network players survived and even today are re-inventing themselves against the backdrop of a massive shift to mobile networking and a protracted and expensive evolution to IMS. So why have these smaller companies survived and what have does the future hold for them? They remain much smaller than major conglomerates and the world is even more aggressively mobile-focused. This report examines the reasons for their survival and, in the light of current technology trends such as NFV and SDN, to suggest that what maintained these companies for more than a decade may make them significant again over the coming one.

The assumption is that Facebook’s future standalone apps will be more functional and communicative in nature, an unbundling of sorts of Facebook’s core features that users engage with on a daily basis—a threatening prospect for carriers. But it also provides opportunity for carrier partnerships, ranging from pre-installed placement on phones to more complex features such as in-app payments. However, while it is clear users want mobile access to their Facebook pages, it’s not a sure thing that they will flock to Facebook’s standalone apps in the same way.

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