Most businesses around the globe were forced to transition, in some cases overnight, to an entirely work-from-home environment due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Solution providers not only had to get their customers up and running with remote solutions very quickly, but they’re also faced with a new challenge: Servicing customers you can no longer physically touch.
Remote access solutions are critical now and they will continue to be key in a post-COVID-19 world, Keerti Melkote, co-founder and president of Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, told CRN USA in an interview.
Aruba isn’t a stranger to large-scale health crises. The 18-year-old networking specialist in 2008 built a remote access point solution to address connectivity issues when the H5N1 Avian flu broke out. At the time, many financial services customers took advantage of the new Aruba Remote APs, which were deployed in the homes of executives to ensure business continuity during the epidemic.
But the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been far more disruptive compared to previous epidemics with nearly every industry and educational institution across the globe having to connect its employees, staff and students remotely, Melkote said.
“Obviously, demand for [the remote AP] is through the roof,” he said. “There's a huge rise in the work-from-home use case and a dramatic increase in demand. The value proposition we offer is the transparent, secure and easy way to connect into a network,” Melkote said of the remote AP solution.
The alternative to the remote AP portfolio is the VPN client. However, the VPN was not designed to be an always-on solution, but rather, a tool for occasional use, Aruba’s Melkote said. Instead, Aruba’s remote AP architecture gives business users a stable, always-on connection in their homes, without mixing with the users’ home network.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way Aruba develops products and services, according to Aruba’s Melkote. The wireless vendor has always had a cloud-first tilt, but Aruba is now prioritizing the management of every solution it offers from the cloud using Aruba Central, its cloud -based network management and monitoring solution for its switches, SD-WAN gateways and access points. Development of the remote access point portfolio has jumped to the front of the line on the development roadmap as Aruba works to empower more work to happen anywhere, securely, Melkote said.
For partners that have been trying to make the jump into managed services, cloud-based services, remote solutions and business continuity, Aruba’s offerings will help jump-start the conversation, he added.
“I think for partners, this is effectively an opportunity to really increase their services component as opposed to just being box sellers -- box resellers are certainly relevant and important -- but I think there's an opportunity to … really go beyond the box and offer value-added services on top because that provides a more sticky revenue stream,” Melkote said.
At the same time, digital transformation that was already happening pre-COVID-19 will accelerate post-pandemic, Melkote said.
“If you ever had a doubt that digital is not foundational to your business, that doubt has been completely removed by how we've all basically come around to using digital platforms to continue our work and be productive,” he said.