A while back, I blogged on a survey that market research firm Ovum ran to help us with market research in NFV and SDN professional services.  While it wasn’t our principal objective in this survey to measure competitive position, we did receive some very interesting competitive perceptions from the service provider respondents.   In this survey, conducted in 2015, Ovum found that both Service Provider and Enterprise respondents rated Cisco as top #1 for Professional Services for SDN and NFV.

In early June (2017), we in Cisco Services received more good news!  Market research firm IHS released their “SDN and NFV Vendor Leadership Global Service Provider 2017 Survey“, and I’m delighted to say that Cisco was reported as the #1 leader for Services and Support in both the SDN and NFV categories.  (Note that Cisco tied at #1 with one other telco vendor in SDN, and was the sole #1 in NFV Services and Support, where that other vendor was joint 4th).

The IHS SDN & NFV Vendor Leadership Service Provider Survey resulted in a detailed report that provides service provider ratings of software-defined networks (SDNs) and network function virtualization (NFV) vendors. The study assessed how service providers rate SDN/NFV vendors in 9 categories, including : product roadmap, security, management software, product reliability, price-to-performance ratio, service/support and other categories.

I was particularly interested in vendor selection criteria: how important were professional and support services to communications service providers deciding on a NFV partner? After all, I’d argue that many in technology view the innovation, product roadmap and performance statistics as being most important.  The customers in the IHS survey reported differently, indeed services and support was rated #3 most important factor that CSPs use to select NFV vendors, after Price/Performance ratio at #2 and Product Reliability at #1, as illustrated below.  Note again that IHS measured 9 factors – so it’s not just these 3 factors that matter, although they were judged most important in helping CPSs choose their NFV vendor.

In conclusion, if you are evaluating NFV solutions for your future service provider roadmap, make sure to evaluate the professional services and technical services offers and capabilities of your potential vendors.  Don’t assume that all vendors are created equal. The IHS report shows that your competitors certainly will be doing precisely this!

I’d like to thank IHS for firstly producing such an insightful report and secondly for granting me permission to replicate the above conclusions from their report.  Details on how to obtain the report are available here, at SDN and NFV Vendor Leadership Global Service Provider 2017 Survey on the IHS web site.


Stephen Speirs

SP Product Management

Cisco Customer Experience (CX)