Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
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Zeus Kerravala | May 01, 2011 |


Acme Packet Continues to Ride the IP Wave

Acme Packet Continues to Ride the IP Wave Considering the competitive positioning and the burgeoning opportunity created from the TDM to IP migration path, the roll Acme has been on is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

The growing importance of the SBC
I think this tends to be another misunderstood point. The simplest analogy that I can think of is that the SBC is as important to the growth of multimedia communications as the router was to the growth of the Internet. Wherever two multimedia networks come together--telco to telco, enterprise to telco, enterprise to enterprise--SBC functionality is required. Over time, as multimedia communications expands from voice to video, presence, etc, the SBC will continue to grow in importance. This includes mobile networks as well where the SBC is just starting to gain penetration. In short, in an all IP network, the SBC can handle almost all of the critical functions needed to manage, secure and route multimedia communications, meaning the importance of the SBC will continue to grow from here.

Strong competitive position
Calling Acme's competitive position strong is almost not doing justice to how strong it is. In many ways, Acme's biggest achievement was that they hung around in a market that wasn't going anywhere for years. Along the way the other SBC vendors either got acquired or disappeared, leaving Acme as the last company standing. Now, in fairness to Acme they could have decided to take a different direction during the lean SIP trunking years but instead they stayed true to the mission and are enjoying the rewards of it now.

Logic would dictate there is room for a second vendor in any market, but Acme has a huge lead over whoever wants to claim to be #2 in this space and I think this lead may be too large to be overcome any time soon. Competing with Acme will require a vendor to do something substantially different than what Acme is currently doing.

To understand what I mean by this, I'll refer back to the router market. In the early days of that market Cisco jumped out to a huge lead over everyone else, much like Acme has today. Many other vendors tried to take a chunk out of that business but they didn't make a dent in the monopoly-like share that Cisco had. It wasn't until Juniper came along and built a significantly different router than the existing Cisco ones. Cisco technology eventually caught up to Juniper and has maintained a healthy share lead on Juniper, but Juniper is the only company that’s managed to dent the router share. Right now, if you want to think of Acme as the "Cisco" of the SBC space I don't believe the Juniper of that market exists today.

In summary, considering the competitive positioning and the burgeoning opportunity created from the TDM to IP migration path, the roll Acme has been on is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.


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