I have followed many networking infrastructure providers throughout the pandemic. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been one of the standouts from my perspective based on its willingness to extend credit facilities and offer its solutions as a service for operating expense flexibility. Recently, the Aruba division commissioned a survey that polled IT decision-makers across the globe on several critical issues, including their its likely response to Covid-19. I want to provide my insights into what I found to be most revealing from the research.
The survey and key takeaways
Aruba surveyed across twenty-one countries, eight industry sectors, and 2,400 respondents from mid to larger-sized companies in May 2020. If interested, you can find a summary of the overall results and conclusions here.
At a high level, I found the following three research areas compelling. First, well over half of the respondents globally are willing to consider IT as a service. This realization bodes well for Aruba, given its focus on offering all ofall its IT solutions as a consumption service by 2022. Secondly, nearly ¾ will maintain or increase investment in SD-WAN services while a slightly higher percentage will do the same with cloud-based networking. This consideration positions Aruba well given its penetration into this highly competitive market with a complete SD-Branch offering and the recent announcement by HPE to acquire Silver Peak to bolster overall SD-WAN functionality. Finally, over one third will increase investment in artificial intelligence (AI) based network technology, automation, and edge computing. Aruba is capable of delivering on these fronts given its leadership with its "Intelligent Edge” and growing implementation of AI in things such as its “Green AP” feature that I wrote about in a past article. If interested, you can find it here.
Based on my recent discussions with organizations, I believe that Covid-19 has shined a bright spotlight on the power of the cloud to deliver scale even in IT environments that have been traditionally on-premise. As a result, post-pandemic I envision higher cloud-based networking consideration, adoption, and the application of AI, analytics, and assurance to improve network resiliency and performance. I recently spoke to Chris Kozup, Aruba's Chief Marketing Officer, to glean some of his key takeaways from the survey. He believes that both the survey respondents and Aruba’s current customers align on two key vectors – the need for simplicity at scale and a higher consideration for network automation.
The first vector points to the power of SD-WAN as companies had to shift branch location support from the tens to hundreds to "micro-branch" work from home support to the tens of thousands. Aruba has long offered a consolidated, multi-functional, easy to deploy and manage platform that takes the pressure off of IT staffing in the field. The second points to a growing comfort level by enterprises to embrace the automation of mundane support tasks to improve uptime and allow network operators to focus on more value-added things like new application support and enhancing user experience and productivity. This newly-found comfort level is a watershed event from my perspective, given that most enterprise network operators pre-Covid-19 wanted an "easy button" to control automation.
I wrote about Aruba’s recent Edge Services Platform (ESP) announcement, and if interested, you can find it here. The ESP platform comprises four significant buckets: cloud services and data management, dynamic policy and security, connectivity diversity, and ecosystem creation. Its announcement has come on the heels of Covid-19, and the timing could not have been better. ESP addresses all of the survey trends mentioned above that with a grounds-up architectural design that will deliver the needed scale for future networking requirements. Aruba is also not new to serving the remote worker- they have been providing solutions for the past decade and could be considered the pioneer of Wi-Fi. In general, I agree with the company’s assessment that companies are moving toward a "hybrid workplace" model. In the future, many companies will blend the traditional office experience with work from home and on the road. I believe Aruba brings the right mix of capabilities to bear – performance, resiliency, simplicity, scalability, security, automation, intelligence, visibility, and assurance in a fully integrated solution that has the flexibility to be treated as a capital or operational expense.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.