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UK Firms Transform Networks for Competitive Edge

Companies are using software-defined networks strategically for more agility after COVID disruptions, ISG Provider Lens report says

Enterprises in the U.K. are treating networks less as a commodity and more as a strategic asset since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted work modes and many industries, according to a new research report published by Information Services Group, a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

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“More flexibility and personalization are needed to serve remote workers and customers better.”

The 2022 ISG Provider Lens Network — Software Defined Solutions and Services report for the U.K. finds many companies are adopting software-defined networking (SDN) as part of broader modernization programs aimed at becoming more agile and competitive under new business conditions. SDN, as a technology or a managed service, allows organizations to address the unique needs of each user, including the access, applications and priority they require.

“It’s increasingly common for British companies to transform their networks as part of a move to software-defined everything,” said Jon Harrod, director, Network Advisory, for ISG in the U.K. “More flexibility and personalization are needed to serve remote workers and customers better.”

Business transformations at most U.K. enterprises are taking place in two phases, the report says. First, organizations assess and standardize their people, processes and tools, a step that typically includes migrating from traditional networks controlled by command-line interfaces to software-defined services. Then they transform the operations that surround the technology.

While several U.K.-based telecommunications carriers had already built products to implement software-defined-everything (SDx) and render it as a service, some customers complained that the carriers’ product partners created limitations on scaling services up and down, ISG says. Gradually, carriers’ incumbent relationships with enterprises became open for renewal. Now more system integrators are building customized solutions and rendering them as services to the carriers.

The number of enterprises that buy solutions directly to manage and operate on their own is still growing in the U.K., but the trend is now moving toward fully managed or co-managed solutions, the report says. Some DIY organizations are moving back to suppliers for a co-managed approach.

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Over the last 12 to 18 months, the market has also been shifting from private to public networking, ISG says. This change was triggered by the adoption of distributed networking during the pandemic, which has also led to integration of LAN and WAN domains.

The report examines a wide range of trends and issues around software-defined networking in the U.K., which also include the rise of now-standardized secure access service edge (SASE) and the growth of intelligent edge networking.

The 2022 ISG Provider Lens Network — Software-Defined Solutions and Services report for the U.K. evaluates the capabilities of 53 providers across five quadrants: Managed SD-WAN Services, SDN Transformation Services (Consulting and Implementation), Enterprise Networks Technology and Service Suppliers, Edge Technologies and Services, and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

The report names BT, Deutsche Telekom, HCL, Orange Business Services, Tech Mahindra, Vodafone and Wipro as Leaders in all five quadrants. It names Colt, Tata Communications and VMO2B as Leaders in three quadrants each and Aryaka, Cisco and NTT as Leaders in two quadrants each. Lumen, Microland, Nokia, TCS, Verizon, Versa and VMware are named as Leaders in one quadrant each.

In addition, Microland is named as a Rising Star — a company with a “promising portfolio” and “high future potential” by ISG’s definition — in three quadrants. Computacenter and Tata Communications are named as Rising Stars in one quadrant each.

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