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Add network-as-a-service to list of ‘new normal’ opportunities

Research from Aruba signals a shift in customer appetite for more subscription-based services

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the way people work and the choice of technologies underpinning that recent transformation.

As a result, digital transformation trends have accelerated and vendors are starting to alert their channel partners to some of those opportunities.

Comments have already been made about the prospects for those selling collaboration and workplace management solutions, remote security tools and mobility hardware. Now it seems network-as-a-service can be added to that growing list.

According to Aruba’s Preparing for the post-pandemic workplace report, there will be a major shift towards network-as-a-service in the next couple of years.

The vendor found that the average proportion of IT services consumed by subscription is expected to increase to 41% in the next 24 months from the current level of 29%. The proportion of users who consume most of their services in that way is expected to reach 74% by 2022.

The report revealed that Covid-19 has been a challenge for many customers, but as they move into a more “normal” phase, there are plans to invest in IT tools. Most users indicated that the money would go into supporting cloud-based networking and monitoring, and insight tools.

“The emergence of the hybrid workplace is pushing IT leaders to deliver a delicate balance between flexibility, security and affordability at the edge,” said Morten Illum, EMEA vice-president for HPE-owned Aruba.

“The workplace as we knew it has significantly changed and to support new norms such as social distancing and contactless experiences, office locations need to have the right technology in place to offer enterprise-level connectivity, security and support,” he added. “All this must be done in an increasingly challenging financial environment, which is spurring the trend for IT decision-makers to opt for the reduced risk and cost advantages offered by a subscription model.”

The jury is still out on the percentage of workers who will remain working remotely even after the pandemic subsides, but expectations are that a fair number will not return to the office.

With customers starting to build that into the next phase of their strategies, there will be an increasing impact on technology purchasing decisions and that equates to revenue opportunities for the channel, according to Sherifa Hady, EMEA Channel Sales Director, Aruba: "The way the industry is investing in IT has changed and the findings of this report go a long way in helping us to understand and pre-empt our customer needs so that we are able to pivot and adapt as necessary to provide them with solutions that are fit for purpose today."

Illum added his voice to others that have started to share thoughts about the return of some enterprise IT projects, indicating that the pause button will not be pressed for long.

“Customer and employee needs have changed so comprehensively in recent months, it’s no surprise to see IT leaders seeking more flexible solutions,” he added. “The need for agility and flexibility in network management is greater than ever and it is now mission-critical to ensure that businesses reduce complexity in the network to ensure the secure and seamless experience that users demand.”

“While there may have been an initial negative impact on ongoing projects, it is encouraging to see that there are firm medium-term plans in place to invest in advancing network technologies enabled by more flexible models of consumption that limit up-front capital demands,” he said.

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