CSP faced a surge in demands due to COVID-19

Communication service providers

Mumbai: Nearly all (99%) of CSP (communication service providers) experienced an increase in demand due to COVID-19 revealed the A10 Networks study.

As per the study, nearly all (99%) of CSP had experienced an increase in demand as a result of COVID-19. And 67% of service providers surveyed believe their customers will continue to operate with employees working from home to some extent post-pandemic.

CSP as per the study findings anticipate permanent changes to customer demand and use patterns. They are seeing changes to procurement strategies, facing intensifying security threats and even have changed their investment priorities as a result.

The study aimed to find the challenges and priorities of CSP as they respond to the ongoing impact of COVID-19. An independent research organisation Opinion Matters conducted the A10 Networks’ sponsored study. It polled 1,251 senior IT professionals from a range of communication service providers in the UK, France, Germany, the Middle East and India.

Key findings on the direct impact and response to COVID-19:

The overnight pivot to home working caused by the pandemic has had an immediate effect on demand and distribution:

  • 99% of respondents experienced an increase in demand as a result of COVID-19, with an average increase of 55%
  • 99% said the pandemic accelerated their transition to a more distributed network
  • 55% scaled up infrastructure across the network
  • 54% scaled up in specific high-demand locations
  • 47% invested more heavily in security technologies
  • 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,” Anthony Webb, EMEA VP – A10 Networks commented on the direct impact.

“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,” added Webb.

“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.,” commented Webb.

According to A10 Network’s International Service Provider Research, 47% of Indian communication service providers have accelerated transition to a more distributed network. This shift has changed customer behaviour significantly.

India scored the highest (69%) for experiencing increased expectation from customers ‘around security.’ Customers’ demand for online platforms increased by 60%, and it 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 Sanjai Gangadharan, Regional Director – SAARC, A10 Networks.

“As organisations 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 programme to reflect the hybrid working environment in their organisations.,” added Gangadharan.

Customer procurement strategies and concerns have changed – the shift to the cloud accelerates
As customers have adapted to an altered digital environment, their requirements of CSP are changing, with more focus on security, continuity and cloud adoption:

  • 56% say customer demand for online platforms such as customer service portals has increased
  • 52% say customers are now more concerned about business continuity and resilience
  • 44% say customer expectations about security from network service providers has risen
  • 58% have seen enterprise customers splitting workloads between traditional telcos and non-telco cloud platform providers to minimise risk to service availability
  • 50% have seen enterprise customers expand telco RFPs to add a mix of non-telco providers

According to Webb, customers are on high alert to the service disruption threat, are demanding higher security and business continuity standards.

“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,” commented Webb.

Investment plans and priorities

The effect of the pandemic and changing customer priorities have altered CSP’s capital investment plans:

  • 52% plan to increase investment in security
  • 50% are reducing investment in their own networks and increasing use of public cloud providers
  • 48% say upgrading firewalls and other security appliances to combat new threats is their highest priority security investment to 2022.
  • 45% say DDoS mitigation across network infrastructure is a top priority, while 43% are prioritising DDoS protection as a service for enterprise customers.

“Communication service providers are reacting astutely to growing customer focus on security and resilience by ramping up investment to protect areas that exposed by the expanded attack surface,” noted Webb.

“Maximum uptime and data protection are paramount for organisations operating in the remote work environment. And investment in these areas will pay dividends for providers facing increasing competition from non-telco operators,” concluded Webb.

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