Vodafone Asia Industry Analyst Summit 2018: Retaining Leadership in IoT and Staying on Track to Challenge the Market with SD-WAN

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • VGE has a comprehensive enterprise services portfolio as well as a strong vision on how to build an agile network platform leveraging SDN/NFV.
  • Vodafone remains a leading player in the IoT space, and it is able to use IoT to open new opportunities with new and existing customers.

Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) hosted its Asia Industry Analyst Summit in Singapore on January 30-31, 2018. While various information involving business directions, products and partnerships was shared at the event, this blog post zooms in on the two key areas: SD-WAN and IoT.

VGE has fast-tracked its productisation of the Cisco Viptela SD-WAN solution for its first global customer in APAC. Meanwhile, the company is also keeping customers informed of its roadmap to introduce a Juniper-based platform in H2 2018. Under the VPN+ banner, this is a multi-vendor platform offering a range of capabilities including SD-WAN, service chaining, on-demand services and NFV. The vision is to offer a single pane of glass and manage different virtual network functions through an ‘app store’ concept. This is important for driving microservices, true OpEx-based models – what vendors have been reluctant to offer. Critically, VGE is developing an underlay network and it will integrate with wireless access. An underlay should not be seen purely as a consolidation exercise, but a way to deliver next-gen services. This could be FMC, security, access options where fixed lines do not exist or positioning the network as a platform for developers through APIs. The need for global wireless network reach is growing, driven by IoT and mobility. Integrating wireless networks as part of global network offerings or solutions (e.g., offering 4G-capable CPE in SD-WAN) gives providers a unique advantage to differentiate in the market.

IoT is rapidly moving from proof of concept (PoC) to implementation. Globally, Vodafone is a leading IoT provider in terms of total number of connections (62 million worldwide). The company has taken several steps ahead of its telco competitors by transforming its M2M/IoT capabilities from just selling SIM cards to providing end-to-end IoT solutions, which include sensors, modules, network, analytics, security and services. In particular, Vodafone has developed vertically integrated capabilities for automotive, insurance and building sectors. In other key verticals such as logistics, health, industry/manufacturing and energy/utilities, the company is looking at offering module/hardware together with connectivity to differentiate in the market. This is the answer to the fragmented ecosystem issue which has been slowing down the adoption; the hardware often does not fully meet customer requirements. One example was presented in energy, where Vodafone sourced the OEM, signalling that a service provider may be willing to play the role of a hardware provider from time to time.

With a strong portfolio and solid solution roadmap, coupled with its outcome-based customer focus and go-to-market partnership strategy, there is a growing market opportunity for VGE to grab from existing as well as new customers, particularly through its SD-WAN and IoT solutions. This will enable VGE to strengthen its position in the Asia-Pacific enterprise market. However, security remains a major concern among the enterprises and needs to be addressed carefully by VGE.

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