Uncommon Wisdom

Aug 1 2011   2:14PM GMT

Beyond price, Huawei makes strategic gains with security effort

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Huawei, which has been gaining influence by leaps and bounds simply because it’s the network industry price leader, showed real gains in strategic insight in our most recent survey. Huawei is demonstrating that it intends to keep up its “build-a-strategy” trend by naming a kind of “chief security officer”. The mainstream thought is that this is intended to alleviate government agency fears that Huawei is in some way a spying conduit. It’s not.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that naming a CSO wouldn’t make that company less of a threat. Then what’s the goal here? It’s to build on Huawei’s growing lead in the networking market as a strategy leader and start to move into specific areas where early opportunity exists. Security is a major issue for consumers and businesses, as well as for service providers, and in the latter case the issue cuts both in the direction of self-protection and in the direction of managed services opportunities.

Our enterprise survey found that the cloud computing statement they identify with the most was “Only the network can secure the cloud”. If operators selling network services like VPNs would add a cloud security offering to that VPN, it would likely sell well with enterprises, even if it were positioned separately from a cloud offering by that operator. That’s critical because operators today have a miniscule share of the cloud market, and enterprises are very likely to fiddle a bit on cloud planning to fully grasp the implications. On the security side, they know. Not only that, a cloud security offering could grease the sales skids in positioning cloud services. Who better to buy a cloud service from than the provider of your network security services?

For competing vendors this is another example of fiddling, this time while opportunity burns. All of the major vendors offer some security tools, but none of them have created effective cloud security positioning, even those who have offerings arguably directly aimed at the cloud, including Cisco and Juniper. And here’s Huawei, that vendors have historically seen as little more than a street peddler complicating a sweet sales deal by standing outside the Macy’s window, moving aggressively and effectively to make something of the opportunity. Yet another “shame-on-you-for-your-turtle-pace” moment.

Network equipment isn’t a growth market any more.  A major Wall Street research firm has terminated coverage of 10 network equipment vendors, and we’ve noted in the past that more and more analysts are saying that network equipment spending in the service provider space is now monetization-limited. The only hope of the network vendors was to create a killer service-layer strategy to fend off Huawei’s aggressive competition. That’s now increasingly unlikely to happen because most don’t have a framework for a service layer, a platform productization of such a framework, or any idea how to build monetization applications.

On the latter point, we’ve undertaken a project in our ExperiaSphere project to create an application note that describes how, based on a presumed ExperiaSphere model of a service layer, operators could build a solution to their monetization needs. We’ve drawn the requirements from two critical operator use cases on content and telepresence, and we plan to publish a detailed implementation map. We have received strong comments of support from big operators on that effort, and when we finish our document (likely to be 12,000 words or more and a dozen illustrations) we will make it available freely on our ExperiaSphere website. We hope that the operators will use it to decipher the complexities of content and telepresence monetization, the principles of a reusable-component-based model of a service layer, and a foundation for some very specific vendor RFI/RFP activity.  We have to tell our operator friends that we believe only they can drive the service layer fast enough to make a proof-of-concept trial by this time next year possible.

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