Telco SDN: In-house vs external development

Dimitris Mavrakis/Informa Telecoms & Media
The Japanese market has two types of operators. NTT Communications is a technology innovator that usually develops technologies and services in-house while Softbank and KDDI rely on the expertise and experience of global vendors for their infrastructure and technology. Both groups may enjoy different benefits depending on the technology development and evolution path, which includes SDN and virtualization technologies.
 
Operators with a strong development focus are likely to use internal R&D or closely cooperate with a single local vendor to develop new technologies or infrastructure that relates directly to their network. Informa expects SDN to be deployed for cloud services in the data center and gradually be deployed in the telecom network, although at a smaller scale and speed.
 
Another advantage of in-house development is that telco SDN technologies are likely to be modeled around existing operational issues by directly addressing them, rather than circumventing them or modifying an existing hardware platform to fit the operator network. By doing so, the operator is likely to exercise a higher degree of control over the deployed network, especially if a large part of the OSS layer is developed in-house.
  
External development
Similar to the majority of global operators, the other group relies more on infrastructure vendors, which may provide an end-to-end network. Although the deployment speed of operators with strong R&D may be higher, this group of operators may have a different set of competitive advantages.
 
For example, Tier-1 vendors are likely participating in worldwide trials, standardization bodies (ONF and NFV) and may accumulate more expertise compared to local, Japanese vendors that may not be able to provide end-to-end systems. Moreover, the end-to-end capability may provide synergies between the data center and network, thus creating opportunities for new types of services or efficiencies.

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