By: James Robertson, Aruba Chief Technology Officer, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
When it comes to modern businesses, “the default for everything” and shifting to the cloud has become the default strategy. Ultimately, the journey to the cloud began with the need to control costs, reduce footprints, and streamline technology clusters in order to create flexibility and flexibility to move toward depreciation-based cost models and away from fixed assets.
The pandemic has only accelerated the impact in the data center field. The cloud is growing exponentially again, so the technology stack can be maintained and managed for whatever comes next for the business model. It is clear that digital transformation at the infrastructure layer is still alive and well, but it has changed dramatically and has accelerated significantly.
But now, bring a new “pandemic-led” factor into the equation: the dramatic shift in nearly all companies’ attitudes toward virtual work — or working from anywhere. We have decoupled work from being a “place to go” and have moved toward “the tasks you get done”, providing the tools almost needed to support the work product.
All of this leads to the independence of the technology stack via virtualization and the independence of the workplace by transforming the work environment into a virtualized work environment, all with productivity tools driven primarily from the cloud to bridge the gaps.
In all this, the local network has remained almost unchanged.
You could argue that, just like plumbing, the local network should be present regardless. But why not also be a part of this agility revolution? Why would it need to sit on the sidelines as a fixed asset, as a fixed cost requirement, with its potential excess capacity, waiting for something to happen? Why can’t we consume networks as we consume every other part of the technology stack?
Enter Network as a Service (NaaS)
If you think about it, we’ve made both sides of the equation default – systems/services and users/locations. What we haven’t dealt with successfully are the network elements themselves. Some parts have changed – MPLS WANs are being replaced by Internet-based SD-WANs for example – but when you return to enterprise premises, they are still the same as ever. Fixed assets in the LAN core, distribution, and access layers, which are purchased once every 5 years or more with the hope that growth can be predicted with sufficient accuracy to sustain it through the lifecycle.
But the world has changed – organizations look at their real estate footprint differently than before and determine whether the virtual world of work is changing their office space consumption needs. Many have already decommissioned buildings, parts of buildings, or entire campus sites as a result of the reassessment. Others have created 100% flexible spaces focused on collaboration and removed the single-seat models from before. Virtual spaces of the virtual economy.
If real estate leaders are making these big bets, then IT leaders, as one of the biggest costs of making a work environment usable, need to think about it too. How do we create flexibility and agility within the local network? How do we transfer what was historically a static archetype into a hypothetical form?
Consumption-based networks are the answer: the ability to raise (and lower) services on a local network as needed. To create new sites at a cost per subscriber or device and to create cost efficiencies in the last bit of technology infrastructure that has not yet been virtualised.
This is not a managed service. This is not some luxury rental arrangement or financial transaction. This is true consumption-driven connectivity with predictable and repeatable costs and performance outcomes – at scale and on-demand – powered by both the cloud and powered by AI to keep operations running and costs under control.
NaaS helps move business forward
How does this work? It starts with an organization that thinks differently about its technology needs—thinking less about technology ownership and more about business outcomes.
Think of it like your mobile phone service. As an individual, you don’t really worry about how the service works, you are just a consumer. Don’t worry about the configuration of cell towers or their proximity to your location. Simply use the trusted service built by the provider to connect and consume the applications that matter to your life and work.
The same provider is responsible for building the service, making the network work according to the needs of its users, and maintaining and updating equipment to keep pace with performance demands or technology leaps. For this service, you pay a monthly fee.
This same approach applies to NaaS. The network topology is determined based on users’ needs, coverage needs are determined through on-site assessment and a NaaS vendor-led consultation process, and turnkey service is created according to those specifications and offered at a predictable monthly cost based on users and devices.
To achieve this efficiently and effectively for business, NaaS is powered by the latest software capabilities from the cloud. Performance is monitored with AI-based capabilities that look for user and network-level issues (and also anticipate improvements and upgrades), security events are monitored and acted upon by AI (all driven by the policy you define) and maintenance events and even firmware upgrades are handled For you in an unobtrusive way for your operations.
You have to take your existing valuable IT resources and focus them on the projects and capabilities that drive your business forward, all knowing that the network will be there to support you with the flexibility and agility to answer whatever comes next.
Aruba is leading this communication revolution. call us We’ll show you how.