The leaders, according to IHS research director Matthias Machowinski, were chosen in part because of their roles as large-scale providers of a range of networking products and services for the enterprise.
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"[They] are stable and well-known companies, have worked to diversify their offerings, and are generally well-regarded by enterprise buyers," he said.
HP, in particular, was lauded for its renewed focus on the enterprise as a result of the company's split earlier this month into two successor firms, and IHS noted that HPE has made networking a top priority. That split has been praised as a wise move by analysts, even as the company sheds more than 25,000 workers from its enterprise division - the bulk of whom will come from enterprise services.
Huawei's determined expansion beyond its roots in China is central to its placement among the leaders. While the company faces lingering doubts about its alleged involvement with the Chinese government and hinted misgivings about its security, the IHS rating underscores its growing importance to the market.
Cisco, of course, remains the most important vendor in the market by some distance. Despite the acknowledged difficulties of the company's metamorphosis into a software-based company, IHS praised the networking titan for its "successful transition into an end-to-end ICT solution provider," and said that its position was largely assured for the foreseeable future.
Huawei's inclusion among the top four comes at the expense of Juniper, which, though it won praise for its "mature routing, switching and security solutions" nevertheless lost its place to the Chinese firm.
IHS's analysis took into account the firms' market shares, financials and research posture, as well as buyer feedback on several topics like product reliability and service.