F5 is buying a signal networking player Traffix, who specializes in the DIAMETER protocol used often in mobile IMS networks, a move that signals that the company is going to launch an attack on the backhaul and mobile-service infrastructure space in earnest. What Traffix provides create what us effectively a signaling overlay network, and we think this could be a very smart play given that future service-layer applications and even current CDN-based content delivery are arguably signaling applications at the service level coordinating commodity IP data delivery. F5 has done a good job in positioning itself in the cloud space, and it’s not a big stretch to presume that they would expand the Traffix mission to include signaling in the cloud and within CDN-cloud enclaves. If they did, it would represent a significant market move and create a major threat to the major network equipment vendors by tapping off high-value applications.
The upcoming Mobile World Conference is already bringing out some developments, and it’s likely that more will follow as the marketplace prepares for the show that represents the last current bastion of carrier capex. What I’ll be looking for is signs that vendors may finally be paying some attention to creating higher-layer service value-add for network operators. The ingredients are in place for many of the vendors, but nobody has the magic formula yet, and I offer here a few brief comments on what would be needed.
Alcatel-Lucent has the technology foundation for the service layer in place, but it’s kind of trapped it between a very high-level articulation (High-Leverage Networking) and an almost-software-level Service Composition Framework. Cisco has all of the pieces of a service layer but has no enveloping message to justify one. They also lack precision in their positioning of the individual monetization-targeted offerings for content, mobile, and the cloud. Ericsson’s biggest problem is their increased reliance on professional services, something their Telcordia deal isn’t likely to fix. Huawei could put a major hurt on all its competitors with a strong service-layer strategy for mobile, but I doubt they’ll do that because they’re winning the price war against disorganized strategic resistance and they have no incentive to rock the boat. Juniper appears to have retreated from its service-layer position to take a more operations-driven stance for its Junos positioning. NSN has to solidify its new positioning that mobile is the heart of its opportunity.
Swing for the seats, everyone. You’re running out of market.