Network infrastructure vendors increasingly resemble traditional IT companies, offering a bevy of software and services designed to enable operators to compete in a Web-centric world. The emergence of cloud services, software-defined networking and the like will ensure this trend continues.
The complex list of services provided by infrastructure vendors runs the gamut. Managed services, service optimization and assurance, network optimization and assurance, service delivery frameworks, customer experience management, training and education are all part and parcel of the modern network vendors' offerings.
However, the need for some services seems less obvious than others. For example, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) Chief Strategy Officer Doug Gilstrap told me when we met at this year's Mobile World Congress that some people wonder why a network vendor such as Ericsson would be involved in application and device testing. Yet this makes perfect sense if you stop to think about it.
With all sorts of new players bringing out network appliances, M2M modules, tablets and smartphones, Ericsson wants to ensure those products will work with its network gear. And by involving Ericsson, the operator and end-user device vendor need to conduct less testing, thus making product available to customers more quickly. "That's lead time to the operator," said Gilstrap.
For a deeper look into the ongoing transformation of infrastructure vendors from hawkers of big iron into providers of software and services, check out this special FierceBroadbandWireless feature.--Tammy
P.S. Network infrastructure vendors and IT companies such as HP and IBM are increasingly stepping on one another's toes when it comes to providing software and services to mobile operators. Which companies do you think will dominate this area in the coming years? Vote in the poll on our home page.