The way that enterprises consume and procure technology is changing rapidly. The days of establishing return on investment, persuading the chief finance officer you’d got the sums right then engaging in a long, slow procurement process are over.
Just like consumers businesses now want instant access to solutions. But they also need the ability to switch off excess capacity which is not providing a business advantage.
Businesses need to move quickly to take advantage of new technologies and IT providers need to offer flexible models of purchasing, leasing and hiring that technology.
This means less up-front capital investment but such arrangements still need just as careful planning to ensure you’re really getting value from the deal
Cloud deals are perhaps the clearest example of this, allowing business to purchase compute functions like storage in such a way that they can draw down the capacity as and when they need it.
]If you need extra capacity there is no wait time – it should be almost instant. Equally if you’re paying for more than you need it should be just as simple to reduce capacity, and with it your monthly bill.
Aruba is bringing the same thinking by offering ‘Networking-as-a-Service’.
As enterprises adopt mobile and Internet of Things technology so demands on their network grow and change.
The company is partnering with HPE Financial Services, Deloitte and Accenture to offer software-defined networking. It allows partners to add networking functions through a simple set of APIs.
It also provides the data required on network performance to accurately decide on upgrades and improvements.
Over time the company hopes to expand this line-up of partners to widen the types of subscription-based networking on offer.
This should provide better use of existing technology and resources as well as better management of network scalability, flexibility and upgrade cycles. New technologies can be deployed without waiting for staff to get trained up so they can stay focussed on business needs.
Just as importantly whole sections of IT department spending can be moved to operational expenditure and away from capital spending.
This can not only provide a saving in itself but also reduces the management headache associated with approving large scale, capital heavy purchases.
The move will make it easier for enterprises to experiment with new technologies like sensors and Internet of Things without having to tie up large quantities of capital in network improvements which might not even be required.
Retailers are expected to be an early adopter of the approach. They want to experiment with IoT on the shop floor and within the supply chain as well as looking at location-based and beacon technologies.
All of these put extra burdens on the core network. This is not just a question of capacity but also of security. At the very least expanding your network in this way also extends the attack perimeter and the number of potential weaknesses in your infrastructure.
The other issue is that not all such projects are going to work in practise. Some will be canned or changed radically which will mean changes to what the network needs to do.
By allowing a ‘suck-it-and-see’ approach big businesses can move almost as quickly as start-ups.
Not all IoT projects will work. But by effectively renting best of breed networking technology you can run pilots and try new technologies without trapped into a long-term deal for a network you might not even need.
The difficulty for enterprise IT is ensuring that subscription models are as carefully evaluated as capital expenditure was.
But get the deals right and there are potential savings in terms of time and money as well as big benefits in terms of flexibility and fast access to the newest technology.