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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Juniper and Ruckus: A Combination Sure to Shake Up the Unified Communications Market

This strategic alliance reinforces the inter-relatedness of the wireless market and portends disruption.

Juniper Networks, which has been looking for a unified communications solution for quite some time, recently announced its partnership with carrier/enterprise Wi-Fi hardware and software vendor Ruckus. The companies plan to offer solutions that pair Juniper’s EX Series Ethernet switches with Ruckus’ ZoneFlex Wi-Fi access points and SmartZone Wi-Fi management software to enterprise, government, and education clients. This alliance comes on the heels of another significant announcement: HP’s (Juniper Ethernet competitor) acquisition of Aruba Networks, which was Juniper’s partner since last year.

Juniper’s alliance with its interesting value proposition will pose significant competition to Cisco/Meraki and HP/Aruba and no doubt will shake up the expanding unified communications market. We believe that the Cisco/Meraki and HP/Aruba will maintain strengths as they do have extensive wired and wireless offerings but as Juniper puts down stakes we would anticipate some serious changes in market shares. The bottom line is that it’s all about innovation and positioning, for example, if Juniper can enhance the enterprise environment by introducing products that could lower the number of logical network devices that need to be managed by IT administrators that could result into a key advantage. Similar solutions could be attractive enough to disrupt the WiFi enterprise market and threaten the major vendors’ leadership.

We do see this partnership as one of many in broader enterprise access realignment (in parallel with Enterprise Small Cells market) with more to come this year and next. The enterprise and the indoor coverage and access markets have been a hot field lately with high promising revenues, on which undoubtedly Juniper wants to capitalize. This alliance is expected to pay bigger dividends in the service provider market where both companies see their strengths.

This next step for Juniper is extremely important as it joins this upcoming unified communications market in a “never too late” move. Perhaps market pressures, dynamics and the new strategic plan will force a severing of the Aruba relationship, which will most likely cease in the next six months or earlier. Time will tell.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Most IoT Industry Narratives Are Wrong!

Yes, it’s true; Internet of Things (IoT) is caught up in the whirlwind of hype, exuberance and outright giddiness. It will be a sad day when neophyte IoT enthusiast wake up and realize this. You can’t blame the younger crowd from behaving this way as it’s probably their first tech hype cycle (documented by The Gartner Hype Cycle). Anyone over 30, however, should know better. 

Hype cycles are a fun ride and ironically, many entities and people make a lot of money in the exuberant whirlwind as enthusiast entrepreneurs and innovation ecosystem participants race to be part of next unicorn or the next Google, Facebook, etc. The first to make money are the highly respected market research firms. It’s a $9 trillion dollar market, no it’s a $14 trillion market, no wait let’s call it the Internet of Everything and call it an $18 trillion market. If it’s everything why is it only $18 trillion. The first question to ask them is “are you sure it’s not $14.7652497 trillion?” Guess their dart board doesn’t have that kind of resolution. Yet, people buy these reports to show internal and external investment sources that their idea is a slam dunk. Ten percent market share is still $1.4 billion dollars, right.

The next to make money in hype cycles are the trade show and conference companies. There are global, national and regional IoT conferences every month. Companies pay to speak to position themselves as thought leaders and people pay to attend to get smart. Note to self, next time I pay a hard-earned dollar to attend an IoT event please assess me with a $1,000 stupidity tax. The topics covered in these shows haven’t evolved in two to three years. By the way, in a few years there WILL NOT be IoT conferences as the topics will be covered in the appropriate vertical market conference: cloud, big data and analytics.

These two early money makers are what’s driving the erroneous narrative of IoT. Why is it wrong? Let’s take an end-to-end view of a solution utilizing IoT technologies (note phrasing). First, we’ll normalize the intelligence throughout the system to 100. The current narrative looks at the IoT equation as this:

In many discussions even Ithing is extremely small and most of the intelligence is located in the cloud and includes “big data” and “analytics.” Isn’t there a glaring omission in this narrative formula? By this definition Inetwork is zero:

Thus, the network must be always there, instantly accessible and, of course, free. The current narratives imply that network intelligence is zero. Isn’t the “I” in IoT the “Internet”? Perhaps for many IoT enthusiast the network is zero since they don’t care about:

1. Cost of transmission (it’s not always free)
2. Cost and power consumption of the modem/radio in the thing
3. Bit rates: maximum, minimum, average peak, average, symmetry (upstream/downstream)
4. Distance verse throughput
5. Latency, round trip delay, connection set up time.
6. Jitter, congestion, dropped packets, availability,
7. Security

There are many markets under the IoT hype umbrella (note phrasing again) where the network can be zero. However, for most markets the network cannot be a ZERO! The correct formula and the correct industry narrative is:

It’s open to an interesting discussion of how the 100 units of intelligence are distributed. Yet, one thing we know for certain is:

Therefore, service providers (telco, cable, wireless) need to take action to change the industry narrative or risk becoming a commodity bit pipe providers. The longer Inetwork is zero the more challenging it will be to overcome this perception. Networking solution vendors need to actively participate in changing this narrative as well or they risk selling commodity solutions to the commodity bit pipe providers.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail contact Greg at

Wi-Fi: The Toy that Grew Up

Historically, mobile network operators (MNOs) looked at Wi-Fi as a toy, a low-end technology that was great to off-load data from networks. Now Wi-Fi is having a strategic impact on MNOs across the globe. Now the question is LTE or Wi-Fi: remind me which one’s for off-load?

Yet, as with many technical innovations, the low-end always wins. Wi-Fi is a classic example of this theory. Through a combination of Moore’s Law, economies of scale, R&D investments and free market dynamics Wi-Fi is king of the hill. In most developed countries people and things can access a Wi-Fi network in 80% of locations. Companies, such as Devicescape, have created virtual networks based on “ambient’ Wi-Fi networks. Hotspots are so ubiquitous that Opensignal launched an application to find the best one out of the many available. Read more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Telecom 2025 Looks Like…

We can all to some extent predict the future; some predictions are a hit while most are a miss with lots in the “sort of” category. And when it comes to telecommunication predictions add the N-dimensional perfect storm of innovations, market disruptions, new business models, disintermediation, mega-mergers, etc.

The global telecom market (fixed and wireless) has unique characteristics which make it so fascinating to study. It’s critical to a city and to a country for economic prosperity, it impacts billions of people’s lives, it’s cross border and it’s a trillion dollar market to name just a few. It has also emerged as a key battle space for asymmetric warfare, leveling the battlefield which closes the gap of U.S. global dominance. If you add to the discussion the importance and outright dependence on satellites for an array of commercial and military applications and the deployment of anti-satellite weapons the global telecommunication market gets even more interesting.

That said here are my easy predictions that I think most people will agree with for what telecom 2025 will look like:

1. There will be less and larger global service providers.
    a. Mega mergers are inevitable as traditional carriers need economies of scale.

2. There will be a wider range of service provider business models.
    a. New “service providers” will arise
    b.There will be an Uber or AirBnB carrier, for example, large and successful without owning any network
    c. Intelligence interconnections and federations will be paramount.

3. Security will continue to be a constant and ever increasing challenge.
    a. Akin to 1920 leapfrogging between bank safe companies and back robbers.

4. Access will be thought of as … people and things accessing the cloud and each other.
    a. It will be a near real-time decision of what network

These are the easy predictions. Yet, the implications of them are vast and substantial and will impact billions of people and affect billions of dollars of investments. It’s truly an interesting time to be in this industry.

Send me ( your easy or innovative ideas of what the global telecom market will look like in 10 years and I will aggregate the replies and send them out to all who participated.

Click for more information about Greg Whelan.

Greg Whelan

Friday, June 12, 2015

How SDN (Today) Is Like MPLS Was (Then)

…and how reflecting on this can help navigate the path ahead in realizing the promise of the new software-defined model

A number of parallels exist between the nascent forms of software-defined networking (SDN) we are working with today and the early stages of development in a similar area of technology that began in the mid 1990s and required more than a decade of steady enhancements to become the essential part of many network deployments that MPLS is today.

By looking at these parallels we can gain some perspective on the nature of such innovations and, yes, their related upheavals, as well as inspiration for continuing to work hard on the finer points of implementation that will ultimately bring the simplified, more agile design model of SDN into wider use.

Let’s look at the parallels in point-counterpoint mode.

Today: We often say in moments of exasperation things such as there are too many forms of SDN; it will die before lift-off because the parts just won’t play with each other.

Then: In 1997 the comments were that there were too many forms of MPLS (too many ways distributing labels in a network, TDP, LDP, BGP, etc.), and how will we ever build multivendor deployments? In the end, meeting customers’ requirements whittled options down to a few basic alternatives that allowed for some choice, but ensured multivendor networks using MPLS could be built.

Today: There are too many choices for communicating with elements southbound from controllers; there is no real hope for efficiencies and scaling in control plane abstractions.

Then: In the late 90s on MPLS we said things such as there are too many choices for implementing VPNs, quality of service and traffic engineering with MPLS; we will never be able to build real service offerings. But eventually customers’ requirements brought RSVP-TE, MP-BGP, VPLS, and BGP/MPLS IP VPNs into play as means of meeting market requirements with interoperable designs.
Today: People ask, how do I monitor this (add your own euphemism) thing and dismissively assert that SDN will forever be a lab experiment unless the real-time and on-going needs of managing such software-driven solutions can be met.

Then: In the early days of MPLS we said similar things. MPLS was interesting in the lab, but it would never be adopted widely unless we solved the OA&M problem. And with the firm guidance of customers’ demands the development of mechanisms to manage MPLS networks evolved via RFC 4379, LSP ping, LSP traceroute, and other mechanisms widely employed today.

And as we speak, innovation around MPLS is not yet dead despite its widespread adoption. EVPN and Segment Routing are two cases in point for how the evolution continues.

By reflecting on these innovations and their refinement over time, we can perhaps weave in a modest amount of patience amidst the stream of developments and implementation models we are digesting with the new designs that are ushering SDN incrementally into our multidomain, multilayer, and multivendor world.

In the end it may not matter if OpenFlow, XMPP, and NETCONF coexist in portions of an otherwise abstracted control plane. It may not matter that the service management templates used in different controllers vary greatly in implementation today, as they may evolve to converge on a few basic models as customers’ deployments continue, as happened with MPLS OAM.

No doubt we are in the disruptive, chaotic, and sometimes confusing phase of innovation when it comes to SDN (for the WAN, for overlay networks, for underlay physical systems, for VNFs, etc.). But if we focus on the gains available from the architecture that have been shown in their early forms to date (flexibility in platform choice, efficiency and scale in monitoring large network systems, and acceleration of new service deployment, to name a few examples) and work on closing the gaps in the implementations that remain to be resolved for the deployments to be pursued with more confidence, we may benefit in a manner similar to the way we did from the persistence of the innovators who spawned MPLS and labored for its viable deployment in the wide array of use cases we have it deployed in today.

Click for more information about Paul Parker Johnson.

For more information about ACG’s SDN services, click here.

Paul Parker-Johnson

Five Lessons Equipment Providers Learned from Deploying IoT Solutions

Dennis Ward discusses five lessons the equipment providers have learned form deploying Internet of Things solutions. He talks about horizontal platforms, end-to-end solutions, subscriber-based billing models and security.

Click to read the entire blog.

Click for more information about ACG’s IoT services.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Worldwide Small Cell Market to Grow Five-fold by 2019

Medium and large enterprises will boost the small cell market indoor residential coverage, with the total small cell market expected to surpass $1 billion by 2019

The Worldwide Small Cell market grew to $134.1 million, up 2.1 percent Q-Q and up 17.5 percent Y-Y. The market was primarily driven by the high demand for better indoor coverage. Small cells are not only used to offload traffic but also for backhauling and to substitute macro networks plugging the gap between capacity and demand for data. Residential and femtocells continue to be the key drivers of the current market growth; however, new multi-operator solutions with advanced SON features and interference avoidance are expected to have a tremendous positive impact to the market.

The growth in small cell market is expected to accelerate as operators realize that small cells are an increasingly cost-effective technology to add capacity while at the same time improve cell edge performance and increase the value of the spectrum they currently hold. Plug-n-play products equipped with advanced features and the latest 802.11ac WiFi and LTE technology will also add demand pressure.

“This quarter has yet again seen many indoor deployments, which will continue to grow but are expected to shift to enterprise and public access venues in the coming years. This shift will generate new business opportunities and sources of revenue for MNOs,” states Elias Aravantinos, principal analyst, ACG. “The ongoing hype around small cells is expected to end by 2016. High data demanding LTE networks and lack of spectrum in the macro layer will force the investment and deployment of a large volume of small cells to boost backhaul, access applications and new services. In the near future the demand of Gbyte levels at the small cell layer toward 5G adoption is expected to boost deployments and significantly affect operators’ spending. Finally, the market is expected to grow at least fivefold by 2019.”

  • LTE connections worldwide increase 150%, growing the demand for high-speed connectivity indoor and outdoor
  • 3G and LTE multimode small cells will continue to be on demand
  • Integrating WiFi network with small and macro cells will enable operators to monetize WiFi
  • The market is expected to grow because of increasing mobile data access pressure and increasing LTE subs
  • Enterprise environment should enable MNOs to generate new sources of revenues
  • Traditional microwave and potentially satellite are the top technologies for small cell backhaul applications
Click for more information about Elias Aravantinos.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Verizon: Are Your Future Looking Binoculars Blurry?

The trillion dollar global service provider industry is in a transformative phase. Mega mergers, hyper competition from new, nimble entrants and regulators stuck in a backwards looking time warp are just a few change vectors colliding in this big bang that are affecting carriers and vendor alike.

It’s becoming more challenging for carriers to differentiate bit transport, and they are actually accelerating this by aggressively marketing bits per second. Also, service providers are losing the narrative in IoT where the discussions are all about “the cloud” and “the thing.” Where’s the network in the narrative? Nowhere, hence it must be always there and free of course.

Forward looking service provider management teams with a good pair of future gazing binoculars realize the future is fixed and wireless access. It’s all about connecting people and things to the cloud and to each other regardless of what access network technology they are using. They want to keep people on their network, keep the billing meter running and control the user’s experience. Wireless companies that see this are buying fixed network operations, and fixed network operators are looking to add wireless technologies and services to leverage their embedded assets and subscribers.

Then there is Verizon. Fixed networks are more challenging to build and operate. Did Verizon get tired of getting dirty climbing utility poles and digging up streets? Or did they get tired of antiquated regulations, community quid pro quo (for example, kickbacks), inflexible unions and onerous pension obligations? In any case, they’ve been jettisoning fixed network operations for a while. The company sold Vermont and New Hampshire to Fairpoint and wire line assets in Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin to Frontier. Are they paying now for investing in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH, FiOS) too soon? A decade too soon? 

Currently, and for the last 10 years mobile network operators (MNO) have been on a rocket ship of revenue, profit and market sex appeal. However, new, serious threats are emerging: cable voice-over-Wi-Fi and OTT voice and SMS (for example, WhatsApp). This wireless booster rocket is running out of fuel. and MNOs need to jettison this stage of the rocket and start the next rocket or they will level off and at best be stuck in low orbit or worse crash back to earth. What this rocket will look like is anyone’s guess. Yet, it’s a safe bet it will be a combination of 5G, massive IoT AND fixed networks.

Thus, if Verizon’s strategy is to become a global Tier 2 or 3 wireless-only carrier they are on the right track. Perhaps all Verizon needs to do is to use a bit of glass cleaner on their binoculars?

Click for more information about Greg Whelan.

Greg Whelan

Access Insights™: Intersection of SP Business Drivers and Emerging Tech

What is “access”? Simply put, it’s about access to the cloud and between people and things.

Access is no longer fixed or wireless. Access is about connecting people and things to each other and to applications and service in “the cloud.” Thus, access is about fixed and wireless. It’s about having the right combined architecture on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. This “combo” trend is having, and will continue to have, major impacts and disruptions in the access market and in the entire service provider ecosystem. New technologies, architectures and business models will emerge. Market realities are forcing carriers to offer (up to) gigabit speeds and incumbents have billions of dollars in deployed assets and architectures. All this makes Access challenging for both technical/architectural and business decision making.

Top Access Insights to Ponder

  • The future of Access is Fixed and Wireless… not “or”;  SPs need to adapt organizations, so do vendors
  • Gigabit Deployment Strategy: Is timing everything? Real strategic implications to the @$# Speed Test.
  • Next-gen Broadband CPE architecture and business models are being disrupted; a. big risk to incumbent SPs and vendors
  • WiFi: The “toy” that grew up; strategic implications abound; Wi-Fi, further proof that the “low end always wins”
  • Voice over Wi-Fi: nothing but upside to cable companies; nothing but threats to MNOs.
  • LTE versus. Wi-Fi: Which one is for off-load?
  • Next Gen Cable Access Networks: PON Greenfield is redundant, DOCSIS Greenfield is an oxymoron
  • CPE vs. Carrier Gear (plastic versus metal): Plastic companies building metal?
  • SDN-NFV in Access:  It’s coming, contemplation begins
  • What’s the value of vendor incumbency at inflection points? Is Access different from any other industry?

Want to discuss these points with the analyst? Contact to schedule some time explore how these insights impact your strategies and how we can create actionable plans to address and exploit them.