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The Unruly Transition to Software Defined Networking

The traditional enterprise networking market will continue to evolve as more companies deploy new technologies to increase overall efficiency and productivity, drive revenue growth, and secure their essential network infrastructure.

The overall enterprise networking market will grow at a 5.9 percent CAGR through 2018, reaching $99 billion in revenue -- due to double-digit CAGRs in the wireless networks and security segments, according to the latest global market study by Technology Business Research (TBR).

Fueled by a 7.2 percent CAGR, professional services will become the largest revenue segment by 2018, as vendors such as Cisco evolve their legacy hardware-based business models to facilitate engagement with Line-of-Business buyers through a services-led approach.

Traditional hardware segments -- such as IP network infrastructure and unified communications and collaboration -- will grow at low single-digit rates due to the ongoing adoption of cloud computing and software defined networking (SDN).

"Cisco will remain the overall market share leader by a wide margin, holding 44 percent of the market in 2018 as the company leverages its industry-leading base of channel partners to drive sales of its broad portfolio of products and services," said Scott Dennehy, senior analyst at TBR.

However, according to the TBR assessment, the Cisco market share will very likely erode due to the negative impact of their customer's eager adoption of SDN. The unruly transition to open source software solutions and white-box open hardware platforms is unstoppable.

With the rapid deployment of cloud services and SDN -- and a shift in IT procurement towards productivity solutions and business outcomes -- savvy enterprise network vendors will choose to evolve their business models away from proprietary legacy hardware components.

Vendors that are unable to rapidly shift their business models away from hardware will experience steady market share losses. These vendors will likely be acquired by other networking players or private equity firms that can fold the existing intellectual property into their portfolios.

The APAC market will experience the strongest growth of all regions through 2018 -- at a 10.5 percent CAGR -- primarily driven by demand in emerging markets.

By contrast, improved spending in developed markets such as the U.S. and western Europe will contribute to mid single-digit CAGRs in the Americas and EMEA.

TBR believes that enterprise networking vendors will invest in emerging markets across Latin America, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and APAC, even though many of these regions will not produce immediate financial returns.

As larger countries such as China, India and Brazil become saturated, vendors will turn their attention to second-tier markets including Southeast Asia and Argentina, Colombia and Peru in Latin America.

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