The shift to software-defined infrastructure - wherein workloads run virtualised (or containerised) on industry-standard hardware platforms - is happening at an unprecedented pace.
Nowhere is this shift more visible than in the telecommunications industry where entire data centers are being converted from vertically integrated stacks to software-defined infrastructure.
IDC expects this trend to continue unabated as telcos seek to expand their sphere of influence on initiatives such as mobile media delivery, edge computing and the internet of things, and connected devices, to name a few.
In an industry where legacy business models and regulations can no longer guarantee revenue growth, telcos must stay ahead of the competition by upping their ante on innovation and, like most enterprises, driving costs down.
Initiatives such as 5G or rich media delivery via mobile platforms cannot be delivered via legacy platforms that are rigid, have scaling challenges, and require months of planning to scale efficiently.
A new forecast from IDC sizes the market for compute and storage infrastructure for telcos at nearly $10.81 billion in 2017.
However, as telcos aggressively build out their infrastructure, IDC projects this market to see a healthy five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% with purchases totalling $16.35 billion in 2022.
Communications service providers worldwide have borrowed a page out of the public cloud services provider/hyperscaler operations model.
They have focused maniacally on bolstering their in-house software development efforts using open source stacks, partnering with integrators to convert their data centers to be software defined, sponsoring and participating in industry-wide infrastructure consortiums, and making a concerted effort to move not just applications, but also network function workloads onto a virtualised infrastructure.
They are shifting to a single infrastructure platform that supports current and new generation telco-specific as well as business applications that can run interchangeably in virtual machines, containers, and bare metal.
Telcos have ushered in a model for flexible and scalable consumption of compute, storage, and networking resources.
"Telcos are at the forefront of the innovation curve," says IDC infrastructure systems, platforms and technology group vice president Ashish Nadkarni.
"The shift to a software-defined infrastructure enables them to focus on innovation, drive operations costs down, and continue to differentiate based on the uniqueness of their products and services."
The report, ‘Worldwide Telecom Infrastructure Forecast, 2018-2023', presents IDC's inaugural forecast for a significant portion of infrastructure market for Telecoms.
Revenue is presented for the overall market and each of the two market segments (infrastructure hardware, which consists of storage and servers, and infrastructure software).
The report also provides a market overview, including drivers and challenges for communications service providers and advice for technology suppliers.