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Post COVID-19, a zero trust framework will become front and centre for CIOs, Shibu Paul, Vice President -International Sales at Array Networks

Express Computer speaks with Shibu Paul, Regional Director - APAC, Array Networks on how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the company, its partners, and customers

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As Soon as the lockdown was announced, the customers of Array Networks started to enquire about an easy to deploy but a secured work from home (WFH) solution. “There was panic in the market for getting work from home solutions. Customers didn’t had the time to move the hardware post the lockdown was announced. We got about 30-40 enquiries on a daily basis. They were looking for a software solution that can work from the personal device of the employees,” says Shibu Paul, Vice President -International Sales at Array Networks.

Secondly, many customers wanted to deploy the WFH solution on a temporary basis as a means towards adhering to the business continuity plan. But not to continue for the long term. “They wanted the licenses only for sixty-ninety days, by the time the situation eases down,” says Paul.

Companies will enhance budgets for WFH solutions, “Spends on new generation platforms will definitely go up. Investment approvals have already started coming in big corporates for a sustainable, secure WFH solution,” informs Paul.

For Array Networks as a company, COVID-19 has proved to be a mixed bag, “We have sold more than fifteen thousand licenses in the last one month for our ‘Direct to home’, WFH solution. Interestingly, in the last one year, the count was two thousand five hundred licenses. While on the other side, hardware consignments of worth around $2 mn are stuck at the ports,” informs Paul. Currently, about thirty to fourty thousand employees of the company’s customers in India are using the WFH solution. Array Networks has also issued multiple free licenses to the customers.

The WFH solution of the company is doing well but the Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) business has taken a hit. “We have closed many contracts but the PO isnt signed because of the COVID-19 crises. These include contracts for many smart cities. The Q1 and Q2 is bad but the business will catch up in Q3 and Q4. The WFH solution isn’t as high value as the ADC business. Yet the WFH will cover up for the revenue loss in the ADC business.  

Post the lockdown, the BCP strategy was put in force. Most of the development work at the company is done in India and USA, “We have replicated the labs in India and USA, so developers can access them irrespective of where they are working from. Additionally, the pandemic was an opportunity of sorts for the engineers to test the zero trust framework being worked upon to be integrated into the WFH solution,” says Paul. They became the beta customers of the security framework. The zero trust approach sees all employees on an equal footing, no matter how senior or junior they are. All employees are taken as non trusted. Zero trust is premised on authentication, authorisation and then modular access based on the role. Array Networks is doing PoC with a couple of Indian customers for its zero trust security framework.

The company has a lean team in India and thus actively engaged with partners. A wide scale partner exercise was undertaken to support the customers. “Most of our partners are well aware about the security configurations. They know how to configure the SSLVPN in the firewall. On an average we are doing 6-7 webinars for training the partners. Over 400 hundred employees from the partner community have been trained,” says Paul. After the lockdown was extended, the customers thronged the partners with queries on further enhancing the WFH solutions.             

Surveys suggest that IT budgets will take a hit for the next few quarters. “As an aftermath of COVID-19, CIOs will be pressed to spend on subjects, based on the revenue generating potential. CIOs will now have to invest in digitalisation. The traditional expense on people will reduce,” feels Paul. Likewise, the hardware and software buying will take a backseat. Businesses will force front the digital models and put it before the brick and mortar piece in their business models. The demand for zero trust based digital solution suite will increase.  

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