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Network and IT Infrastructure is Morphing Together

Some large internet application providers increasingly source their own infrastructure from Asia-Pacific ODM/OEM vendors. Telecom network operators with tens of billions more revenue now look at the IT ecosystem and seek to benefit from what ABI Research calls the WebScale economies.

In some ways, Telcos can emulate the in-house networking hardware design and development of WebScale firms -- such as Google, Facebook and Amazon -- and in other ways they cannot.

It is no secret that much of the telecom infrastructure is based on the Intel x86 Xeon architecture and many of the Network Functions fit very well into a server architecture.

In their latest global market study, ABI Research looked at the pros and cons of telecom operators seeking commercial "white box" IT hardware for their core network elements.

The findings support inclusion of more commercial IT into the mobile broadband network and deployment with a top-tier IT vendor to minimize risk and uncertainty.

"Network operators are correct in observing that a given x86 processor delivers pretty much the same MIPs no matter in whose box it is installed," says Joe Hoffman, practice director at ABI Research.

But unlike the WebScale firms, mobile networks are fiendishly complex and no operator has expertise to build an in-house solution. These network operators still need the telecom infrastructure vendors to provide the Network Functions software.

Competitive pressure and the scale of the IT ecosystem will continue to deliver the best value for processing power. As a result, top tier infrastructure vendors are partially or wholly embracing commercial IT infrastructure.

Further, ABI Research finds the role of the infrastructure vendor will evolve to that of a software and system integrator -- and that is already happening now with an end-to-end IT based solution from at least one vendor.

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Software Defined Networking and NFV research service, which includes analyses, market data, insights, and competitive assessments.

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