New research from Heavy Reading shows that the industry is struggling to cut through the standards groups noise -- falling in line with the industry pundits who say there are simply too many groups and not enough time or resources for all of them.
The communications industry has almost as many industry groups as it does acronyms. In the New IP world, groups have been popping up left and right since the arrival of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), the latter of which spurred a flurry of activity around standards and best practices for management and orchestration.
To find out which groups -- both old and new -- are thought of as dynamos and afterthoughts, in January 2015 Heavy Reading polled more than 450 communications industry professionals to get insight into the familiarity, importance, influence, relevance and perception of the 17 most well-known groups.
More specifically, of the 459 total respondents, the survey respondents included 26% network operators, 25% hardware vendors, 19% professional services and consulting firms, 10% system software vendors, 4% each from operations/business support system (OSS/BSS) and components vendors, 1% financial/investment firms and 11% from other types of organizations.
From all those surveyed, one important finding stood out: There is a general consensus that industry groups are "essential." In fact, 60% of all those surveyed said that industry trade associations and groups are essential to their respective companies.
Industry Group Importance
Getting down into the nitty-gritty details of the survey, highlights from the report include some eye-opening stats:
- Established standards powerhouses like IETF, IEEE, ETSI and 3GPP clearly have the respect and support of the telecom industry at large.
- While the ITU remains widely respected worldwide, its perceived importance and relevance is declining.
- The Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), though doing reasonably well in industry perception, lags the standards giants in recognition and perceived importance.
- TM Forum scored poorly in the industry perception ratings and is not widely viewed as a leading organization for service provider IT initiatives.
Reflecting on the survey results, Dennis Mendyk, vice president of research at Heavy Reading, said one of the most surprising was that the ITU still has a great deal of industry respect. Nearly 60% of respondents said ITU is very important to their company. However, at the same time, 24% also said the ITU’s importance has diminished over the past two years, he added.
"Also, given the growing importance of B/OSS and virtualization, it’s surprising that TM Forum came in near the bottom of the pile. In contrast, the new groups focused on virtualization -- ONF, OPNFV and OpenDaylight -- are emerging as the leading players in this area," said Mendyk.
Other findings from the survey showed that groups known more as trade associations rather than as standards bodies -- such as Broadband Forum, GSMA and ATIS -- are not viewed as being as significant by the same measures.
While Mendyk does not see consolidation ahead amongst industry groups, he said some may fade out because "they've outrun their useful course," and that more cooperation or resource sharing among groups would help move things along.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP