José Tormo, regional director of HPE Aruba for southern Europe, could not be more proud of the company’s performance in recent years: except in 2020 in which the pandemic froze part of the business activity, the company is growing at sustained double digits and in 2021, it has recorded the best year in its history.
The good economic results also coincide with a time when Aruba is innovating on several fronts: the availability of its entire offer in a model as a service; the development of your NaaS strategy, the implementation of Wi-Fi 6E or the security of new teleworking environments.
On all these issues we have had the opportunity to talk with José Tormo, who has also been convinced that 2022 can be even better than 2021. This is what he has told us.
[MCPRO] What balance do you make of 2021 and what do you expect for 2022? At this point, many companies hoped that COVID would have passed into history, but it has not been the case. What are the main growth areas for Aruba?
[José Tormo] After the year of the pandemic, the year horrible that we have all had in 2020, I can tell you that 2021 has been a year in terms of spectacular results and the best year in the history of Aruba. And that in Aruba, except for 2020, which was the year of confinement, we have managed to grow double digits every year. In 2021 I am not talking about 11% or 12%, but about the upper part of the double digit. It has been our best year by far.
In general, the boards of directors of large companies have realized that IT departments are essential for the evolution of their business and, moreover, that in many cases they are the ones that have saved businesses. They have realized that advancing in the digital transformation is strategic and based on that, they have begun to accelerate all investments and as a consequence, well, practically I would tell you that everyone in all business areas, in all sectors, There has been a very important growth.
In 2022 we remain in a very important transformation phase not only for Aruba but for HPE, for two years now. Antonio Neri announced in 2020 that by the end of 2022, we will be able to sell all our products as a service and with a flexible consumption model. And that is where we are. all the core of our business, Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) will continue to be from the cloud, the platform through which we provide value services to our clients.
We understand that customers no longer expect mere connectivity and what we are trying to do is provide value to the network, provide those values of optimization, automation, AI, analytics, etc. We have begun to exploit all of this in 2021 and this is the next evolution that we are going to start offering you in service mode and that is going to become a part of our strategy.
On the other hand, a year and a half ago we acquired Silver Peak, a company that was a world leader in SD-WAN technology, so now we are the world leaders. Integrated into our platform, it will become an important axis of our development in SD-Branch networks, with which we will also improve security both in the company network and in the cloud.
[MCPRO] So can you confirm that this year all Aruba products will be available as a service?
[José Tormo]Exactly. The objective is that, that by the end of 2022 our entire portfolio can be sold in service mode. A good part of it already is, but the goal is for it to be like this between now and the end of the year, because it is not only our commitment, but also HPE’s.
[MCPRO] As you know, one of the things that most concerns customers is security. In your case, on November 2, HPE confirmed that attackers had gained access to the Aruba Central platform, having access to data from your customers. I do not know if you have determined how this incident occurred and what measures have been taken so that something does not happen again.
[José Tormo] As far as I know, there was a security hole, not in the entire platform, but in a very limited part of the platform, in which, in the event of an attack, sensitive customer information was not accessed. That was fixed immediately.
Companies put all the means at our disposal to prevent these things from happening and there have always been security problems with all platforms, both cloud and non-cloud, as soon as they are detected they are published. It is our obligation and when there is an event of this type we communicate it to our clients and the market. On the other hand, within our company we have people who are actively dedicated to “crushing the platform” in search of possible security problems, in order to anticipate problems like the one we have seen.
[MCPRO] One of the trends that you have insisted on the most in recent times is that of the NaaS network as a service. Do you expect at some point that it will have the importance that SaaS currently has?
[José Tormo] We think it is the future. We are at a stage where digital transformation is very important for companies. Companies do not want to use technological infrastructure only as a means, but as a source of business. For that, among other things, having people who are dedicated exclusively to exploiting network platforms is no longer an optimal model.
Technology is continually growing and becoming more complex, it has more and more features that can benefit companies, but considering the speed at which it develops, it is difficult for a company’s IT department to take advantage of all these advantages.
This is one of the factors why a network offer as a service is interesting. It allows you to free up those resources so they can be dedicated to tasks that are more business-related. On the other hand, it allows you to accelerate the innovation process within the company. In addition, it also helps free up budgets, preventing companies from having to own 100% of their infrastructure. In a network as a service model, we propose to customers to forget about manual work, pay attention to updates, etc. We give them a service by which they dedicate themselves to their business and we and our partners exploit that network to provide added value to your company.
[MCPRO] How do you market that network-as-a-service model? Is only the infrastructure taken into account or are other parameters taken into account, such as traffic?
[José Tormo] As the model is proposed right now, you pay based on the number of switches, but it is something that can change.
There may come a time when instead of the user paying for the use of network units, access points, etc., they can pay, for example, for ports used, for the traffic generated or for the number of users.
Keep in mind that we are at an early stage so we will have to see how it evolves. At the moment we are in what we could call NaaS 1.0 and we will have to see how it changes depending on the needs of customers. It is a business model that is also early for customers, although there is already great interest in this topic.
In a study that we recently published, we determined that between 95% and 97% of companies are thinking of implementing NaaS in the next two or three years, so there is a clear strategy that points in that direction, although in these At the moment there are still few companies that have implemented it.
[MCPRO] One of the trends that has grown most strongly in recent years has been telecommuting. In your case, you have opted for this hybrid work with the launch of different products and services.
[José Tormo] Telecommuting has been part of our strategy for a long time. It is something that has entered society, that has come to stay and is not going to go away. It is true that VPN solutions saved the lives of all companies during the pandemic, allowing us all to be able to work from home.
Now with the development of hybrid work, the time has come to adapt to the new circumstances. What we have seen is that a VPN solution is not enough, both for security and connection quality issues.
It makes it easier for you at home, with your own infrastructure, which is not a business infrastructure, to be able to work and access the resources you have from the company. This allows you to work, but not in a secure way, because you are not in a secure environment: you are working with the access point provided by the operator.
An access point that is not overly secure is not enterprise class nor do you have quality of service mechanisms for certain types of applications. It may be worth it to work with a web application of your company, but for things like medicine, for certain types of high-quality videoconferences and for other types of work, the infrastructure you have at home is not enough.
For these scenarios, what we are doing is launching Micro Branch-type solutions, which are hybrid access points: half access point, half switch. This allows us to transfer all the security policies and all the quality of service policies that a user has from the company to his home and thus does not have to depend on the operator’s access point, which is insecure.
Teleworking is of course here to stay and is going to grow, but it has to be done in a different way than it has been done until now.
[MCPRO] For part of the industry, the WiFi 6 protocol responds to many of the great problems that this technology has had, such as working with many users concurrently. What demand have you detected for WiFi 6 in companies?
[José Tormo]Well, 2021 has been the explosion of Wi-Fi 6 and it will continue in 2022. We are seeing more and more demand for a technology that expands the spectrum to provide more bandwidth and more available channels.
Basically what it allows you is to be able to manage more devices in parallel and now with the explosion of devices in companies, even though many are IoT and take up little bandwidth, this is increasingly necessary, because some of these they are critical. Technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E allow you to manage all those devices optimally.
[MCPRO] The maximum use of Wi-Fi 6 in companies, however, requires that the rest of the technological components such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. be updated.
[José Tormo] In addition to the fact that Wi-Fi 6 is compatible with the previous standards, keep in mind that little by little, companies have to update and change. That is why technology is important. And not only WiFi but also the type of devices that are using the network, the servers, etc.
Technology is important and strategic and that is what I said at the beginning, it is something that those responsible for companies realize more and more, that it is something strategic for their growth. And everything goes on that line. You can’t change devices if you haven’t changed the infrastructure; it is a wheel in which one thing leads to another. What we are seeing is sustained growth in all sectors, both in networks and in any other that is related to technology.