By: Sherifa Hady, Vice President Channel, Europe Middle East & Africa at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
As-a-service IT consumption models have proven to become increasingly popular across the IT landscape in recent years, and it is easy to see why. Even before Covid-19 hit, organizations were being pushed to address fluctuating markets, technical innovations and unplanned events increasingly quickly. CAPEX planning can leave them with long product life cycles and an inability to pivot – locking them into costly spending patterns and damaging their capacity to meet today’s shifting business dynamics. Enter OPEX, the subscription approach with its flexible operating expenses and on demand payments that is underscoring business agility.
However, while flexible financing is often seen as the core reason behind the uptake of as-a-service models, it appears the conversation is beginning to evolve beyond this. According to IDC’s latest ‘IT Procurement Trends and Consumption Models Survey’, a number of other factors are now deemed as, if not more, important than cost alone.
Here are three specific to networking that have come to the attention of IT buyers more recently:
Optimizing IT Staff
Top of IDC’s list of factors driving as-a-service deployments is the wish to reduce IT staff workloads. This is particularly relevant to networks. All too often IT teams find their days filled with requests to address network problems, prying them away from strategic workloads. Resource, time and expenses are spent on troubleshooting, determining root causes, and remediating the latest event or attack, leaving the team unable to focus on more critical projects.
With many key services such as deployment and decommissioning included in subscription offerings, their roll out can afford IT staff more time to carry out the more complex, value-add business tasks. This means truly optimizing IT staff and driving new business outcomes.
Networking-as-a-Service (NaaS), for example, includes data analytics, expanded telemetry, artificial intelligence, and automation – which combine to deliver critical efficiency gains in network operations. With network management increasingly complex in the new age of remote working, replacing manual interventions with advanced automation and analytics also provides increased visibility from a security perspective from usage through to bandwidth.
Ultimately enterprises are increasingly favouring NaaS offerings as it allows them to outsource the hardware and software components of their networks to a partner to take on the more mundane tasks, enabling their employees to focus on mission-critical, business-enabling work.
Decreasing Security Risks
Security remains a top concern for all organizations, especially as Covid-19 has pushed networks to support huge remote workforces over the past year.
With NaaS, most providers can ensure the security of the entire voice and data network so that all transactions, business-critical applications, and data are kept safe and secure.
As the number of IoT devices connected to networks continues to grow exponentially, especially during this new era of remote working, control and visibility issues are heightening risks and leaving networks more vulnerable to breaches. If IT staff are stuck spending time troubleshooting, it’s unlikely they’re able to police the network thoroughly.
In this sense, outsourcing your network management helps alleviate risk as well as workloads. A fully-managed network security solution can also eliminate single points of failure and prevent bottlenecks and intrusions. NaaS deployment can help boost protection further by running the most up-to-date versions of security software, and ensuring that hotfixes are installed as soon as they become available.
It isn’t just protection from external sources that companies need to be worried about. During the pandemic, the flexibility to scale up or down has been helpful as companies’ business needs have changed. For example, if a small retailer needs to scale down networking capacity in a retail location and increase online operations instead, a NaaS model allows them to do that. What would have been a security headache for IT teams to organize manually, a NaaS model with embedded security automation allows for a smooth and secure process.
Meeting Edge expectations
The increased reliance of organizations on cloud services during the pandemic has resulted in the need for the enterprise network to extend beyond just the data centre and campus offices. This means that network now must embrace the Edge, where data is created, captured, and processed. Businesses that are able to efficiently and securely connect to the Edge and leverage the data they collect there will be well positioned for the future. In fact, our research found that 72% of global IT leaders are already actively using Edge technologies to deliver new outcomes and those with more mature Edge deployments are gaining increased business value from data.
The dramatic expansion of the enterprise network that accompanies Edge activity can strain legacy network operations and management. Fortunately, NaaS presents an opportunity for enterprises to outsource the day-to-day management of the network and gain access to the most advanced hardware and software technology. In fact, IDC expects that NaaS will be a critical enabling platform for extending enterprise networks to the Edge in the coming months and years.
The rise of the NaaS business model has been nothing short of a revolution. Often championed for its flexible approach to keeping expenses down, the subscription service is becoming increasingly recognized for a wealth of other reasons.
Moving past the OPEX versus CAPEX debate, businesses are waking up to the impact that deployment can have on IT staff workloads, stabilizing security issues and unlocking Edge potential.