Network-as-a-Service seen revving up by 38% within the next 2 years

IT leaders are now investing more in cloud-based and AI-powered networking technologies as business recovery plans take shape in response to COVID-19.

This is according to a global survey of 2,400 IT decision-makers (ITDMs) commissioned by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

As IT leaders respond to the challenges associated with enabling a highly distributed workforce and the emergence of the hybrid workplace — with people needing to move seamlessly between working on campus, at home and on the road — they are looking to evolve their network infrastructure and shift away from capex investments towards solutions consumed “as a service.”

The average proportion of IT services consumed via subscription will accelerate by 38% in the next two years, from 34% of the total today to 46% in 2022, and the share of firms that consume a majority (over 50%) of their IT solutions ‘as a service’ will increase by 72% in that time.

“Every part of the workplace needs to evolve: the campus must be embedded with technology to support social distancing and contactless experiences, and the home office must offer enterprise-level connectivity, security and support,” said Partha Narasimhan, CTO of Aruba.

The report found 22% of respondents describing the impact on their employees as “significant” (widespread furlough or layoffs), while 52% considered it “moderate” (temporary reductions in some functions), and 19% “low” (very few jobs impacted).

Globally, 38% of those surveyed will increase their investment in cloud-based networking, with 45% maintaining the same level and 15% scaling back. The Asia-Pacific region was the global leader with 45% stating increased investment in cloud-based networking, rising to 59% among ITDMs in India.

Majority (55%) of respondents say they will explore new subscription models for hardware and/or software, 53% managed services for turnkey hardware/software and 30% financial leasing — all as a result of the impact of COVID-19. This reflects the increased need for more financially flexible models in a challenging environment.

While the pandemic has clearly negatively impacted ongoing projects, this research suggests it will also catalyse medium-term investment into advancing networking technologies, and a shift to more flexible models of consumption that limit up-front capital demands. Trends that were already taking hold will now accelerate, including the move to the Edge and the adoption of cloud-based and AI-driven intelligent networks.