HPE Study Points to COVID Boosting Cloud


By: R. Scott Raynovich

A new study of IT decision makers by HPE's Aruba business unit shows that businesses have experienced major disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic that will eventually translate into a surge in cloud investment.

According to a global survey of 2,400 IT decision makers (ITDMs) commissioned by Aruba, a business unit of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), 74% of organizations reported moderate to significant impact to their employees due to the pandemic. As a result, 38% of IT leaders plan to increase their investment in cloud-based networking, and 35% in AI-based networking, as they seek more agile, automated infrastructures for hybrid work environments.

The research backs up the patterns Futuriom is finding in interviews and studies of our own. One of the primary drivers of IT and network reconfiguration is a permanent shift to a more distributed workforce with an increase in Work from Home (WFH) or Work from Anywhere (WFA) strategies, even after the pandemic subsides. Another factor is that cloud infrastructure is seen as more agile and adaptable to change, which means that digital transformation projects are likely to accelerate.

Everything as a Service (EaaS)

HPE has concluded that IT leaders will have to respond to the challenges associated with a highly distributed workforce and hybrid workplace by evolving their network infrastructure toward solutions consumed as services from the cloud -- such as software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and network as a service (NaaS).

The company believes 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 organizations that consume a majority (over 50%) of their IT solutions "as a service" will increase by approximately 72% in that time, according to the study.

“With the emergence of the hybrid workplace, IT leaders are being asked to deliver a delicate balance between flexibility, security and affordability at the edge,” said Partha Narasimhan, CTO and HPE Senior Fellow for Aruba, in a company statement.

Cloud Investment Surge Predicted

The HPE report surveyed ITDMs in over 20 countries and eight key industries, looking at how they have responded to IT and business demands in the wake of COVID-19, what investment decisions are being made as a result, and the consumption models now being considered.

Here are some more of the highlights:

  • ITDMs reported that the impact of COVID-19 has been significant both on their employees and short-term network investments.
  • 22% described 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).
  • ITDMs in India (57%) and Brazil (34%) were most likely to cite a significant impact on their employees, while those in Hong Kong (12%) and Mexico (10%) reported the least, highlighting a massive swing in experiences between regions.
  • According to 77% of ITDMs, investments in networking projects had been postponed or delayed since the onset of COVID-19, and 28% indicated that projects had been cancelled altogether.
  • Project cancellations were highest in Sweden (59%) and lowest in Italy (11%), showing there are also significant disparities between countries within the same region, while 37% of ITDMs in education and 35% in hotels and hospitality globally said they have had to cancel network investments.
  • In contrast, future plans are aggressive, with the vast majority of ITDMs planning to maintain or increase their networking investments in light of COVID-19, as they work to support the new needs of employees and customers.
  • Of those surveyed, 38% globally will increase their investment in cloud-based networking, with 45% maintaining the same level and 15% scaling back. The APAC region was the global leader, with 45% stating increased investment in cloud-based networking, rising to 59% among ITDMs in India. With cloud solutions allowing for remote network management at large scale, these capabilities are particularly enticing for IT teams when being on-premises is not possible or challenging.
  • ITDMs are also seeking improved tools for network monitoring and insight, with 34% globally planning to increase their investment in analytics and assurance, 48% indicating that they will maintain their level of investment, and 15% reducing it. This allows IT organizations to troubleshoot and fine-tune the network more efficiently, as demands on it are augmented by a distributed workforce.
  • There is also an emphasis on innovative technologies that simplify the lives of IT teams by automating repetitive tasks. We found 35% of ITDMs globally are planning to increase their investment in AI-based networking technologies, with the APAC region leading the charge at 44% (including 60% of ITDMs in India and 54% in Hong Kong).

More information on the study is available on the Aruba website.

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