Aruba forecasts WiFi 6e, SASE to dominate enterprise in 2022

Aruba VP shares his tech trends predictions for the enterprise in 2022, including WiFi 6E, SASE, NaaS, and AIOps.
20 January 2022

An advertisement for a WiFi network on the wall reads in French “stay connected” in Geneva. (Photo by BORIS HEGER / AFP)

2022 will likely be another transformative year for technology and innovation impacting businesses, big and small. But of course, the bigger the company, the more likely they are to require or incorporate enterprise-scale solutions. In fact for 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader (for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure), Aruba, the widescale adoption of WiFi 6e and edge-based SD-WAN is just the tip of the enterprise innovation precipice that is expected to digitally push large organizations forward in 2022.

While the US government is cracking down on the ‘Big Tech’ firms on buzzworthy issues like data protection and monopolistic tendencies, other industries are eagerly looking at other emerging tech that is coming out of R&D and into the workplace. Quantum computing is the new AI, from being a researcher’s darling to looking like there might be actual, practical uses beyond 2022.

With so many companies now developing platforms and solutions for the ‘metaverse’ (beyond original hypeman Facebook, with the company now renamed to Meta, that is), we might start seeing augmented reality headsets and haptic gloves making their way into meetings this year. Self-driving trucks and other automated heavy machinery will be more widespread in industry this year. And the technologies underlying Web3 are expected to be felt much more strongly this year.

Steve Wood, the vice president, APJ, of Aruba shared with TechHQ his tech industry predictions for 2022, including WiFi 6E, SASE, plus the enterprise and networking infrastructure trends making waves in the office.

Aruba Prediction #1: SASE as a key gateway to merge two paths

Approximately six in 10 enterprises are looking to implement clear strategies for Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) by 2025. With enterprises setting clear foundations during the early adoption stages in previous years, the market will see a clear split in approaches 2022 and years ahead. Large enterprises will increase their focus on security, reliability, and the quality of user experience.

On the other hand, small- and medium-sized enterprises are likely to be attracted to the all-in-one SASE offerings, where simplicity and “one throat to choke” take priority over advanced capabilities. In both cases, a best-of-breed SD-WAN partner for on-prem security and WAN facing capabilities will be key in meeting the disparate needs – one with a fully-fledged cloud-delivered security partner delivering secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB), and zero-trust network access (ZTNA) services will be prioritized.

Aruba Prediction #2: The transition of WiFi 6E to take off and scale in 2022

5G cellular has taken center stage in 2021, with clear implementations on campus and inside enterprises. This sets a clear building block of a fast transition to WiFi 6E. As employees across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region cite a higher demand for hybrid work, enterprises are required to remain steadfast in ensuring that employees are effectively and efficiently connected to promote an ideal collaborative workplace.

WiFi 6E delivers high capacity with an additional 1200 MHz of new spectrum, while retaining backwards compatibility. Mirroring the demands for hybrid work, leading market intelligence firm 650 Group expects over 200% unit growth of WiFi 6E enterprise Access Points in 2022, indicating that like Aruba, enterprise organizations are fast recognizing the potential of WiFi 6E, especially with the continued reliance on activities such as videoconferencing, telemedicine, and distance learning.

Aruba Prediction #3: The rise of “microbranches” supercharged with AI automation, driven by hybrid working

As the pandemic starts to plateau, Asia’s businesses are looking at new ways to make work more profitable and rewarding through “productive, anywhere” employees. This new normal will drive the emergence of microbranch or “branch of one”. We’ve witnessed organizations scramble to expand VPNs and deploy remote access points (RAPs) to connect their locked-down workforce during the early days of the pandemic.

In 2022, we will see enormous growth for purpose-built microbranch offerings that combine enterprise-class WiFi access with sophisticated multi-path WAN connectivity and advanced AIOps for reliability and consistent user experience. These microbranch offerings will securely extend the enterprise to the “branch of one.”

Prediction #4: Increase for infrastructure consumption models, like NaaS

A cultural shift is happening right before our eyes — the increased value consumers are placing on “experiences” over “things” and the decline in the need to “own things” is getting more prominent in our societies today. This shift will soon be mirrored by enterprises in the coming year, with organizations being less focused on devices and capital expenditure (CAPEX), and more focused on business outcomes from their technology investments.

Organizations desire to have greater financial flexibility and cost predictability, while being able to increase IT efficiency and keep pace with innovation. A flexible infrastructure consumption model allows for all of this. This model is ideal for organizations that aren’t fully ready to take the plunge as it provides the option of “trying before buying,” and allowing the adoption of the new model at their own pace. This will drive a big increase in demand for consumption-based services like Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) in 2022.