Before the dust settled on its previous acquisition (Acme Packet for $2.1b), Oracle announced this last week that it is acquiring North American vendor Tekelec.
Oracle started in database systems and is a leading player in this field – even in mobile, it is now growing its infrastructure reach and will surely expand its business in mobile networks.
Oracle is no stranger to the mobile market, where it already offers a plethora of products and services for operators. A quick look on its “communication solutions” webpage illustrates that the vendor clearly has grand visions for the mobile market which will now be even bigger with the acquisition of these two purebred telecoms vendors.
Acme Packet’s main product is Session Border Controllers (SBCs), network elements that are placed at the edge of a network and control, mediate and translate communications to and from outside the network. Given the heterogeneous nature of current networks (which is not expected to change), SBCs are generally considered a key element for current and future IP networks, especially mobile. As such, Acme Packet’s acquisition is somewhat of a natural fit for Oracle, which is a key player in enterprise communications and now aims to expand its mobile business. Unified communications, Service Delivery Platforms and enterprise communications are overlapping or will benefit from SBC technology and will enhance Oracle’s value proposition to operators and enterprises alike. Acme Packet was also developing Diameter (LTE core network signalling) technology before the acquisition, but Oracle has not even once mentioned Diameter post-acquisition, so it is natural to assume that SBCs are its primary interest.
Tekelec is a established vendor in SS7 and has now ventured in new areas, including policy control, Subscriber Data Management (SDM) and Diameter, where it is a market leader. Through its acquisition, Oracle has now diversified its foothold in many new areas of the network, in most cases areas where it had no presence before. However, there is a great deal of cooperation between Oracle’s legacy offerings and Tekelec’s: the latter’s policy control and SDM are a good complement to Oracle’s subscriber databases while Diameter is a wildcard.
Oracle, being an IT vendor, is preparing for the convergence of the IT and telecoms realms. By acquiring Acme Packet and Tekelec, the vendor is preparing for mobile network virtualisation and mobile SDNs. Acme Packet and Tekelec are cutting edge vendors that were offering technologies and infrastructure that was entering the market with LTE or would do so in the short term for advanced communication services over these networks. Their acquisition (and patent holdings) make Oracle a much stronger player in telecoms, perhaps stronger than some established infrastructure providers would like.
The question is whether Oracle will continue to acquire more telecoms vendors and expand its reach towards the edge of the mobile network. If it continues, it will become a major competitor and headache for the likes of Ericsson and Huawei.
Guest article by Dimitris Mavrakis, Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media