A10 Networks has recently published research – Global Communication Service Providers: Market Growth Fuels Security Investments – revealing the priorities, expectations, and perspectives of CSPs across the globe as they evolve and expand their services and infrastructure in an increasingly complex digital environment.
The study was undertaken by independent research organisation, Opinion Matters, among 2,750 senior IT professionals from a range of communication service providers across 11 regions around the world, with 250 UK respondents surveyed.
It found that all (100%) of UK service providers surveyed expect to see traffic volumes rise in the next two to three years. Two thirds of respondents expect to see traffic increase by 50% or more – with one quarter (25%) believing it will soar by 75% or more.
As a result, four key themes ran throughout A10 Networks’ second UK CSP survey. These were: focusing on investment, preparing for growth, expanding services to meet underserved communities, and seizing opportunities to expand into new markets with new services.
Anthony Webb, Vice-President of A10 International, says, “These predictions align with the sustained traffic growth we’ve seen in recent years. Although the pandemic created a one-off burst in growth which we witnessed in our 2021 survey, with 98% of UK CSPs surveyed stating this, we are now seeing more sustained patterns emerging which show continuing growth at a considerable rate. Likewise, these positive growth levels are creating both the urgency and the confidence for CSPs to undertake substantial investment projects.”
Network security strategy is becoming more sophisticated and diverse
The survey found that UK respondents’ top three priorities for network security investments were:
- 32% simplification and integration of disparate, disconnected point security solutions
- 32% ransomware and malware protection services
- 30% upgrading firewalls
Anthony continues, “Although upgrading firewalls and other security appliances were in the top three, this was less dominant than it was two years ago when we did our first CSP survey. This points to the fact that today’s network security strategy must be wide-ranging, with a well-rounded approach that can handle the full spectrum of emerging threats to maintain a high quality, reliable, and secure service for customers.”
Providers are working to close the digital divide
Alongside investing in network security, UK CSPs are planning to expand their networks to reach unserved or underserved communities:
- 63% of UK respondents say they are expanding their networks to unserved/underserved communities.
- 49% are planning to expand for an uplift of more than 10% of their current subscriber base.
- 14% are expanding for an uplift of more than 50%.
- 37% are planning to build additional data centres and expand to provide additional capacity for other service providers.
Anthony adds, “Connecting communities is central to reducing inequality and supporting digital opportunities, so it is heartening to see this positive direction of travel. Combining this with robust security strategies will result in more people and communities worldwide benefitting from safe, reliable digital services.”
Enterprise cloud migration is having a positive impact
Enterprise cloud migration has been a strong trend over the past decade, accelerated by the pandemic. The survey found that UK CSPs are now focusing on finding the right mix of cloud services to support future plans:
- Overall, 69% of UK respondents report a positive outcome related to their cloud transition
- 27% say it has directly generated revenue
- 21% say they have evolved to offer public cloud and managed data centre services
- 21% now have differentiated services that have increased their relevance to customers
Anthony comments, “It is interesting to see that one in four CSPs say they have gained revenue as customers have distributed workloads and data centre functions between private, on premises and public cloud. This cloud transition is also evident when it comes to key purchasing criteria for network equipment, as being in a cloud-native form factor was a must-have criteria, with 30% saying this.”
IPv6 transition remains an ongoing challenge
Worldwide demand, as CSPs globally add more subscribers, has made IPv4 addresses scarce. Providers therefore need to plan for transition to IPv6. However, the survey shows that only 34% of UK respondents expect to achieve this in the next two to three years.
- More than one third (34%) are adopting a strategy of carefully managing their IPv4 pools and gradually transitioning to IPv6.
- 32% aim to run the two in parallel.
Anthony concludes, “This shows that CSPs are adopting a more cautious approach to IPv6 adoption, leveraging existing investment and carefully managing existing IPv4 addresses or running the two in parallel, rather than accelerating full transition plans.
“A10 Networks’ Global Communication Service Providers: Market Growth Fuels Security Investments report shows that CSPs are at a crucial point as they aim to capitalise on demand and seize opportunities to grow and diversify their business. To realise their full potential, service providers need to scale and protect their networks so the infrastructure they provide is secure and highly available.”