As Covid-19 forced companies to adopt work-from-home, communication service providers (CSPs) found it extremely challenging to provide enterprise-grade broadband and telephony in a home setup that had to meet the expectations of the workplace. The result was increased pressure on communication providers, fixed, mobile and virtual, to provide a better service. A new report sheds light on how CSPs responded to the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the way forward.
The study commissioned by A10 Networks, titled: “International Communications Service Providers Insights 2021 – Research Report” was undertaken by independent research organization, Opinion Matters that polled 1,251 senior IT professionals from a range of communication service providers in UK, France, Germany, Middle East and India and found that service providers irrespective of size and geography had experienced an increase in demand as a result of Covid-19.
Intensifying security threats
As per the global survey, 67% of service providers surveyed believe their customers will continue to operate with employees working from home to some extent post-pandemic. As a result, they anticipate permanent changes to customer demand and use patterns, and they are seeing changes to procurement strategies. They are also facing intensifying security threats and have changed their investment priorities as a result.
According to the report, the pandemic accelerated their transition to a more distributed network, with 55% said they have scaled up infrastructure across the network, 54% scaled up in specific high-demand locations, 47% invested more heavily in security technologies and 32% increased headcount to deal with requirements.
“The switch to working from home caused an unprecedented shift in customer needs and a fundamental change in both geographic and temporal use patterns, as home workers adapted working hours to combine jobs with home-schooling and caring duties; At the same time, it represented a rapid expansion of the attack surface, leaving providers battling on two fronts: how to meet demand, and how to scale-up safely” said Anthony Webb, EMEA Vice President at A10 Networks.
“Our research shows providers had a dual focus on scale and security, which is set to continue as they make strategic adjustments to the changed landscape and accelerate their transition to the more distributed network. The digital revolution is upon us, driving telecommunications companies to rethink their business models,” said Webb.
Shift in customer procurement strategies
The report also states that customer procurement strategies and concerns have changed as the shift to cloud accelerates. As customers have adapted to an altered digital environment, their requirements of communication service providers are changing, with more focus on security, continuity and cloud adoption:
“Customers are on high alert to the threat of service disruption and are demanding higher security and business continuity standards as a result. They are also being proactive about reducing dependence on individual providers by splitting workloads. The fact they are including non-telco providers in procurement strategies shows that they are planning this approach over the long term,” Webb said.
Also as far as investment plans and priorities of CSPs are concerned, the study shows over the 52% plan to increase investment in security and 48% say upgrading firewalls and other security appliances to combat new threats is their highest priority security investment to 2022. Further, 45% say DDoS mitigation across network infrastructure is a top priority, while 43% are prioritizing DDoS protection as a service for enterprise customers.
Moving to a distributed network
The pandemic has been a game changer as far as enterprise technology adoption is concerned, believes Sanjai Gangadharan, Regional Director, SAARC, A10 Networks, who noted that 47% of Indian communication service providers have accelerated transition to a more distributed network.
Talking about the India scenario, this shift has changed customer behavior significantly, as India scored the highest (69%) for experiencing increased expectation from customers ‘around security’, this has also led to an increased demand by the customers for online platforms by 60%, and has amplified customer’s concerns around business continuity and resilience by 54%.
“Given the considerable shift in consumption demands; 62% of Indian enterprises have accelerated investment plans in security and 70% of them plan to accelerate investment in networks,” said Gangadharan.
He added, “As organizations look to continue to restructure their businesses following the pandemic, there is a heightened demand to increased investment in public cloud providers by 39%, while 64% are looking at revising employee cybersecurity training program to reflect the hybrid working environment in their organizations.”
Webb concluded: “Communication service providers are reacting astutely to growing customer focus on security and resilience by ramping up investment to protect those areas that have been exposed by the expanded attack surface. Maximum uptime and data protection are paramount for organizations operating in the remote work environment and investment in these areas will pay dividends for providers facing increasing competition from non-telco operators.”