Succeeding on an Open Field: The Impact of Open Source Technologies on the Communication Service Provider Ecosystem

The increasing use of open source technologies in communication service provider (CSP) networks is having a profound impact on the CSP ecosystem. In this report, we explore the attitudes, motivations and impacts of open source adoption on CSPs and their vendors. We analyze changes in revenue, solution content and research and development (R&D) investments over the coming five years.

To bind the scope of the analysis and provide meaningful areas to research, we selected three networking areas to investigate: orchestration, network control with software-defined networking, and packet transport infrastructure, including transport routing and data center switching. Combined these areas represent over $20 billion in annual spend in 2018 and over $40 billion in 2023. We segmented the vendor ecosystem into two categories of suppliers: open source portfolio companies (OSPC) and diversified portfolio companies (DPC). OSPCs perceive open source collaborations as strategic to their business model and have built their companies in the era of open source. Like the CSPs, OSPCs view open source as an opportunity to expand their addressable market.

Diversified portfolio companies view open source collaborations more tactically and are motivated by faster time to market and/or reduced R&D costs for a given development. DPC companies are also driven to participate in open source communities based upon the priority of their CSP customers. DPCs have an opportunity to evolve their products and business models over time, but commitment and adaptation to new business models will be required.
Initial moves are being taken within the ecosystem but succeeding with open source adoption will require commitment and investment from CSPs and vendors to lead communities, drive requirements and execute deliveries. Although CSPs expect future financial benefits, we are still early in the deployment life cycle to ascertain those outcomes.


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