Networking in IT is the process of using hardware and software to drive network and security provisioning and management to maximize a network.
The networking market is a rapidly growing category in the tech industry. The global network automation sector, for instance, reached an estimated value of over $13.8 billion in 2021, and it is estimated to reach $48.2 billion by 2021, according to Research and Markets.
While traditional networks were not made for emerging technology, such as edge computing, Aruba, part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), believes that it’s “time for a new approach.”
Datamation interviewed Scott Calzia — the VP of Aruba Portfolio Marketing — who shares his perspective on the development and growth of networking technologies in the market:
Scott Calzia is responsible for product, solutions, and vertical marketing at Aruba. Calzia has 25 years of networking industry experience in product management, marketing, sales, and engineering with several networking vendors, including Juniper, Nortel, Bay Networks, and Cabletron.
Datamation: How did you first start working in networking?
Calzia: My first job in networking was installing 10BASE5 transceivers with “vampire taps” and 10Base2 BNC T-connectors.
Datamation: What is your favorite thing about working at Aruba?
Calzia: I love that our focus is always on the customer. Aruba’s “customer-first, customer-last” culture means we are constantly asking: How can we make things better? The focus has always been on anticipating customer challenges and coming up with innovative ways to solve them. This extends even to internal ways of doing business: How can we make Aruba a better vendor to work with?
Datamation: What sets Aruba’s networking approach or solutions apart from the competition?
Calzia: Following on what I like about working at Aruba, it’s the customer-focused innovation. Talking with customers, understanding their challenges, brainstorming ideas, and bringing them to market are reasons why customers look to Aruba. Developments and products such as Airmatch, Live Upgrades, and Central NetConductor have helped customers make deploying and operating their networks more efficient.
The Networking Market
Datamation: What is one key networking technology that particularly interests you?
Calzia: Artificial intelligence (AI) gets a lot of attention in today’s networks. Customers need a way to onboard, provision, and secure new devices and leverage techniques to help operate and troubleshoot environments with a minimum of direct IT involvement. This gives time back to IT operators to focus on other business-critical priorities.
Datamation: What is one networking technique that teams should implement?
Calzia: Teams should place more weight on the value of “experiences” over the value of “things.” Organizations should be less focused on devices and operating systems and more focused on business outcomes. This means making a shift from focusing on the details of operating the infrastructure and instead focusing on what the infrastructure can provide in return.
Datamation: What is one networking strategy that companies should implement?
Calzia: Companies should consider network-as-a-service (NaaS) models for deployment and operation of their network infrastructures. NaaS provides agility and flexibility with the option to outsource the full life cycle of a network deployment.
Datamation: What is the biggest networking mistake you see enterprises making?
Calzia: Recently, the misconception that networks will return to a “normal” state. One thing we’ve heard a lot about over the past 2.5 years is that transformation of networks continues to accelerate. New methods of working are here to stay, and there is a growing emergence of the microbranch or branch of one.
Datamation: What are some current trends in the networking market that are promising?
Calzia: Network automation driven by AI and machine learning (ML) techniques allowing IT operators to focus on other business priorities. A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) using zero trust and secure access service edge (SASE) principals is increasingly critical, as we see an increase in microbranches. Of course, with Aruba’s rich wireless history, I must mention Wi-Fi 6E, which now includes the 6 GhZ band of the Wi-Fi spectrum, providing the potential for great increases in WLAN deployments.
Datamation: What are the biggest factors that are driving change in networking?
Calzia: Automation and AI, new models of hybrid work, a focus on services, and experience vs. things.
Datamation: How has networking changed during your time in the market?
Calzia: My career started when garden hose-type cables were being strung around buildings to connect devices, and now we carry handheld computers pretty much anywhere to access a tremendous amount of data and one another. It’s a totally different world.
Datamation: Where do you predict the networking market will be 5 or 10 years from now?
Calzia: I think we’ll see a much greater portion of network infrastructures managed by organizations separate from the business, such as NaaS and IaaS vendors.
Personnel in networking
Datamation: What is one networking technology your team wants storage professionals to know?
Calzia: Continued innovation across the compute, storage, and network domains is essential to drive the next wave of digital transformation, not only in centralized locations, but also at the edge, where the work gets done. Infrastructure must keep pace as the industry evolves from data centers to “centers of data.” To meet this rapidly evolving trend, we recently debuted the Aruba CX 9300, a 32-port 400 Gbps switch designed for dense server and storage deployments as well as the CX 8325, which provides an Ethernet storage fabric with “3x performance at 1/3 the cost.”
Datamation: If you could give one piece of advice to a networking professional in the beginning of their career, what would it be?
Calzia: I could offer advice on learning critical technologies, like cybersecurity and data science. However, I think one important piece of advice is to hone your communication skills. Be able to clearly articulate an objective or expected outcome and become comfortable with communicating these ideas to others.
Datamation: With the shortage of tech talent, how is your team finding and retaining professionals to work in networking?
Calzia: With the new hybrid work models, employee engagement is critical. Managers must ensure they are clearly articulating objectives, aligning their teams to meet those objectives, and making sure their teams feel their contribution is valued through recognition and sharing wins. Of equal importance are creating a culture of diversity and inclusion and providing flexibility in schedules and work locations.
Datamation: For the greatest business impact, what should networking professionals be focusing on most in their roles?
Calzia: The business’s objectives. The network is a tool to achieve those objectives. At Aruba, our objective remains one of thinking differently to solve customer challenges. Everyone at Aruba follows this customer-first, customer-last mantra.
Datamation: What is one of your top professional accomplishments?
Calzia: I was fortunate to be part of a team that took a small product, the Aruba Mobility Access Switch, and made it into a product serving multiple functions in customer remote office locations, in terms of connectivity, deployment, and security. Many people put together their experience and innovative minds to think outside the box and deliver a platform meeting a key customer need. The Mobility Access Switch was the parent product for several other development derivatives that are used today.
Datamation: What is your favorite part of working in the networking market?
Calzia: A personal favorite is seeing the products in action. I still get a kick out of looking at the ceiling and seeing Aruba access points deployed at customer environments.
Datamation: What is one of your favorite parts of the work week? How does it encourage or inspire you?
Calzia: First thing in the morning. I use the time before meetings start to organize my thoughts and schedule for the day. It is strange to say, but I miss my driving commute into the office each day (I work 50% from home), as I could use the commute traffic to organize myself.
Datamation: Do you have a favorite way to recharge during the workday?
Calzia: I try to get outside at some point during the day. Taking a walk or a short jog helps break the day up between many meetings and lets me focus my thoughts.
Datamation: What are your favorite hobbies or ways to spend time outside of work?
Calzia: Like many, I enjoy the outdoors. Camping and especially backpacking and canoeing. I try to take one week of the year to go into the back country on a backpack trip. A key benefit to me is, strangely, it is one of the few areas where you cannot connect!
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