The introduction of open source software platforms and bare-metal systems into the legacy enterprise network realm will eventually disrupt the status-quo for leading vendors that have previously benefited from the lack of unruly innovation.
Meanwhile, established vendors can still take advantage of the apparent resistance to change within many traditional IT organizations that depend upon the conservative leadership of cautious CIOs.
Results from the latest market study by Technology Business Research (TBR) indicate growth in the enterprise networking market is accelerating, as demand for cloud, mobility and security solutions -- particularly in developed markets -- escalated and major suppliers leveraged their dominant market positions to capture customer spending.
Total enterprise networking revenue among the benchmarked companies grew 4.3 percent year-to-year in the first half of 2014, that's more than the 0.9 percent growth in second half of 2013.
Vendors capitalized on improved discretionary IT spending in developed regions like Northern and Central Europe and the U.S. market, although demand slowed in emerging markets such as Russia and China.
Network Security’s leading growth of 13.5 percent year-to-year in the first half of 2014 underscores the importance enterprises place on maintaining a secure network amid the advent of mobile cloud computing.
"Protecting their IT infrastructure remains a top priority for enterprises, and vendors are reaping the benefits," said Scott Dennehy, senior analyst at TBR.
TBR believes that in addition to solidifying mission-critical relationships with customers, expanding in the security space generates opportunities for high-margin add-on software and services sales.
With hardware commoditization driven by cloud and software-defined networking (SDN) threatening to upend the networking industry, leading vendors are transforming their business models to maintain relevancy and drive long-term growth.
This includes realigning resources to capture growth opportunities in areas such as cloud, software and services. Many vendors will face challenges executing in these new areas, as the focus on applications and services does not play to their core strengths in hardware.
However, vendors such as Cisco increasingly will leverage strategic partnerships -- such as Red Hat for its open source enterprise software portfolio -- and apply supplementary acquisitions to remain key players in the changing enterprise IT and networking landscape.
The TBR "Enterprise Network Vendor Benchmark" identifies revenue and growth leaders in Network Infrastructure, Wireless Networks, Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C), Network Security and Services, and highlights vendor strategies and future moves as well as overall market trends in each segment and geography.