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Growth expectations are fuelling network security investment, reveal communication service providers

Amr Alashaal, Regional Vice President – Middle East at A10 Networks.

A10 Networks today 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.*

Of the 250 enterprise organisations surveyed in the Middle East (Saudi and UAE), it found that, 100% of service providers surveyed expect to see traffic volumes rise in the next 2-3 years. Almost half (44%) of the respondents expect to see traffic increase by up to 50% – 36% expect traffic to rise by over 50% up to 75%, with one in five (20%) believing it will soar by over 75% or more. The average increase in network traffic volume is expected to be 56%.

As a result, four key themes ran throughout A10 Networks’ second global 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.

Commenting on the positive growth levels, Amr Alashaal, Regional Vice President – Middle East at A10 Networks said: “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, we are now seeing more sustained patterns emerging which shows 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 respondents’ top priorities for network security investments in the next 2-3 years are:

  • 25% – Upgrading of firewalls and other security appliances for new threats and increased traffic volume
  • 25% – DDoS detection and monitoring
  • 24% – Ransomware and malware protection services
  • 24% – DDoS cloud scrubbing
  • 24% – Simplified, centralised management and analytics systems

Amr Alashaal continues: “Although upgrading firewalls and other security appliances came out top, 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, CSPs are planning to expand their networks to reach unserved or underserved communities:

  • 82% of respondents say they are expanding their networks to unserved/underserved communities.
    • 48% are planning to expand for an uplift of more than 10% on their current subscriber base.
    • 33% are expanding for an uplift of more than 50%.
  • 16% are planning to build additional data centres and expanding to provide additional capacity for other service providers.

Commenting on these findings, Amr Alashaal added: “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 in the region 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 enterprises are now focusing on finding the right mix of cloud services to support future plans:

  • Overall, 59% of respondents report a positive outcome related to their cloud transition.
    • 22% say that is has directly generated revenue.
    • 19% say that they have evolved to offer public cloud and managed data centre services.
    • 18% now have differentiated services that have increased their relevance to customers.

Amr Alashaal comments: “It is interesting to see that nearly 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 27% saying this”.

Top business challenges as networks evolve

  • 35% – Maintaining a quality service and avoiding service outages
  • 31% – Increased risk from exposed APIs as a result of app modernisation, open source and AI
  • 27% – Maintaining application availability and security

IPv6 transition remains an ongoing challenge

This demand, as CSPs add more subscribers, has made IPv4 addresses scarce. Providers therefore need to plan for transition to IPv6. However, the survey shows that only 32% expect to achieve this in the next 2-3 years.

  • More than one third (39%) are adopting a strategy of carefully managing their IPv4 pools and gradually transitioning to IPv6.
  • 27% aim to run the two in parallel.

Amr Alashaal 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”.

The report also contains analysis of variations between individual countries and regions surveyed. Download the full report here: Global Communication Service Providers: Market Growth Fuels Security Investments

*Methodology: A10 Networks commissioned a survey, undertaken by an independent research organisation, Opinion Matters, in January 2023. 2,750 senior IT professionals from a range of communications service providers in companies employing 250+ people were surveyed from a variety of operators including: mobile, fixed-line telecom, cable, converged, MVNO and MVNA and OTT providers. This is the second global research survey A10 Networks has undertaken into the communication service provider environment expanding on the previous study conducted in 2021. Markets surveyed were UK, Southern Europe, US, Germany, India, Middle East, Benelux, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Nordics, Central & South America.

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