Digital transformation is drawing IT leaders towards new network models

A new study from Aruba reveals a rising interest in Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) as technology leaders across EMEA re-evaluate their current infrastructure and network set up. 

Defined in the survey as when a company has over 50% of its network rollout, operations and life cycle management delivered by a third party on a subscription basis, NaaS is a concept that 86% of EMEA companies are currently discussing in some capacity. In fact, it is a topic of frequent discussion in almost 1 in 3 companies (30%).  

When asked about the reasons behind this interest, financial efficiency emerged as one of the main anticipated benefits, with over three quarters (76%) of respondents expecting NaaS to help reduce operational costs, and 60% thinking it could enable a shift from CapEx to OpEx. But flexibility – both in terms of the network and team time – was another primary driver.  

 Three quarters (75%) of companies agree that having the flexibility to scale their network based on business needs is key to their interest, and 64% see it as a potential game changer in how they are able to manage activities. Meanwhile, less than half (48%) are looking at NaaS to help them reduce IT staff levels – instead believing it will free up team time for innovation and strategic initiatives (57%)

The appetite for NaaS is evident. Unfortunately, the road towards implementation looks less clear, with the survey identifying a number of key barriers. 

 On the surface it appears that internal processes may be the issue. Among the top concerns identified by technology leaders were budget rules and investment cycles (59%), finding the budget (55%) and compliance with internal procurement (51%). 

 However, a deeper dive into the data reveals a much more fundamental barrier: a lack of overall understanding of NaaS. While 100% of technology leaders said they are familiar with NaaS as a term, only two in five claim to fully understand what it means. Even among the companies discussing NaaS on frequent basis, only 46% of technology leaders claim full understanding.  

 And this education gap is also evident in the perception of NaaS’s viability. Only 11% of technology leaders currently see NaaS as an established and viable solution. The remainder either consider it to be a concept looking for a market (45%) or in its early beginnings (44%). 

 “As we emerge from the pandemic, the need for agility and flexibility in network management is greater than ever,” said Morten Illum, Vice President, EMEA for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “We know that NaaS can ensure the critical flexibility needed by businesses as they look to recovery and beyond, as well as solve a range of issues from security and scalability to budget and team constraints. However, in order for businesses to unlock the potential of NaaS, we must focus on bridging the gap between awareness and knowledge.” 

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