The top 10 most powerful vendors in enterprise networking

The top 10 most powerful vendors in enterprise networking

Here's our ranking of the top 10 network-gear vendors that serve corporate needs

There is no shortage of vendors competing for business at every part of the enterprise network - every vertical, every size business, from the edge to the core.

None are created equal, but a few have separated themselves from the pack to become the 10 most powerful.

This is Network World's understanding of the most powerful enterprise networking companies, which we based on our own research, consultations with trusted industry analysts and the work of our in-house journalists.

For our purposes, we thought of power mostly as market share in key areas of the enterprise networking marketplace - specifically core networking, monitoring and management, WLAN and the edge, though we did consider their technology bases and important market factors as well. Enjoy.

1 cisco banner

Why they’re here: It was ever thus – Cisco remains the biggest single player in enterprise networking, and it’s not particularly close. The company offers one-stop shopping for almost anything you could need for your network and ensures that its products play nicely with each other.

Sure, they might not play so nicely with other people’s gear, and some of the price tags might make your eyes water, but Cisco continues to have a strong, reliable technology base and is the company to beat in the most important areas of enterprise networking.

Recent power moves: Earlier in 2017, Cisco snapped up data science and analytics firm Saggeza, SD-WAN player Viptela, and won a legal battle with rival Arista over a patent lawsuit. 

By the numbers: 60 – Cisco maintains a 60 per cent market share in the routing and switching market, according to the most recent numbers from IDC.

Outlook: Cisco has challengers on many fronts, some of which address their particular parts of the network more effectively than Cisco does. But nobody can claim to offer the same breadth of solutions as enterprise networking’s 800-pound gorilla, and the future is still pretty bright for Cisco.

2 hpe aruba banner

Why they’re here: Aruba is the biggest name that isn’t named Cisco in the wireless LAN space, and the only other company to occupy the “leaders” section of Gartner Research’s latest Magic Quadrant report for wired and wireless LAN infrastructure.

Aruba, acquired by HP months before the company split into two entities in late 2015, is now the wireless arm of HPE – former CEO Dominic Orr joked that Aruba actually acquired HP Networking, not the other way around. It accounts for about 20 per cent of worldwide wireless revenue share, according to Gartner.

Recent power moves: Lately, Aruba’s been pushing into the core switching market, releasing new hardware to go with its ArubaOS-CX operating system, which it bills as an all-in-one solution for visibility and management for an increasingly IoT-heavy enterprise network.

By the numbers: 7.5 million – The company’s partnering with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute for a tracking and traffic-flow optimisation project that will affect the College Station campus’s 7.5 million annual riders.

Outlook: The foray into the core switch market could radically affect Aruba’s trajectory, though its position in the WLAN market is unlikely to change as a result.

Still, the recent news from IDC that the company’s market share shrank in its latest quarterly report, in a period where the global WLAN market grew, might be a cause for minor concern.

3 juniper banner

Why they’re here: Juniper is a perennial contender and one of two big-name foils to Cisco in the data-center networking sector. Their data-center solutions are nicely integrated, well-made and generally thought to play nicer than Cisco with third-party products.

Juniper was faster on the uptake than the competition was when it came to mesh networks and other next-gen network topologies, and the company’s software is particularly well-regarded, tending toward open frameworks that integrate smoothly with other parts of the network.

Recent power moves: The company hired a new CTO, former Googler Bikash Kolay, and announced that it had beat its earnings targets for Q2 of this year.

By the numbers: 3.5 – Juniper clawed out 3.5 per cent annual growth in the switching and routing market in 2016, according to IDC.

Outlook: The company lost a small amount of market share in 2016, according to IDC, but its trajectory looks like an upward one, and analysts believe Juniper is well-positioned to succeed in the changing enterprise networking market.

4 huawei banner

Why they’re here: Huawei hits a lot of segments in the enterprise networking market, from core networking to WLAN to WAN (It also makes approximately everything else, including smartphones and tablets).

The company’s presence in the U.S. has been a bit constrained thanks to questions about the security of its products and its relationship to the Chinese government, but there are no such constraints in many other markets around the globe.

Put simply, Huawei’s looking to become a Chinese Cisco. The company is second only to Cisco in core switching and routing market share, and in third place behind Cisco and HPE/Aruba in WLAN. So it certainly seems to be on the way.

Recent power moves: If the really important stuff like partnering with KFC to create a fried-chicken-themed phone, isn’t interesting to you, it’s worth noting that Huawei’s also making a push into AI thanks to its chipmaking holdings.

By the numbers: 77 – Huawei’s share of the WLAN market grew 77 per cent between 2015 and 2016, according to the latest available numbers from IDC. 

Outlook: It’s hard to pick against a company that’s trending up as sharply as Huawei across critical enterprise networking market segments. Huawei’s struggles to break into the lucrative U.S. market may not go away, but given its rate of success elsewhere, it may not matter that much.

5 arista banner

Why they’re here: Arista is tightly focused on data center networking, and it’s one of the top companies in the world in that area. It’s the only company to share the “leaders” quadrant with Cisco in Gartner’s core routing and switching Magic Quadrant, and within that space, its offerings are diverse and flexible.

The elephant in Arista’s room, however, is a legal case for patent infringement brought against it by Cisco, which isn’t going well for Arista. It’s not going to put the company out of business or anything, but it’s a pretty serious stain on Arista’s public image and a headache for its product design.

Recent power moves: Arista’s latest releases – new (merchant silicon!) hardware in its R series and software upgrades – have been lauded as among the most capable on the market.

By the numbers: 33 – IDC says that the company’s been growing fast, to the tune of 33% in the core networking market over the course of 2016.

Outlook: A lot depends on the eventual fallout of Arista’s legal battle with Cisco. Like we said, the company’s been growing like a weed lately, but the courtroom setbacks are likely to slow that down significantly.

Read more on the next page...

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