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Aruba Networks' Keerti Melkote On COVID-19 ‘Accelerating’ Network Transformation Connectivity In Crisis

Aruba founder Keerti Melkote shares how the networking firm’s employees, partners and customers are setting up new networks on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, how Wi-Fi and 5G will work together to empower the next decade of innovation, and how any doubt around the importance of digital transformation has been “completely removed.”

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How is Aruba Networks helping on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

We started to see an emerging need for creating increased capacity in healthcare facilities, be it for patients coming in for COVID-19 treatment or patients getting treated for other medical reasons. There was an increased need for triage for patients that were coming in with symptoms that didn't quite know whether they had COVID-19 or not, and there was a move toward setting up triage tents outside of hospitals. Finally, there were a bunch of testing stations that were beginning to see the need for in various locations for drive-through testing. All of this required infrastructure and connectivity is pretty core to doing anything in a hospital. Whether it's to admit someone, file a medical report, or prescribe drugs, everything is done online and requires access to medical applications and connectivity is at the heart of everything.

We started to see a bunch of requirements and requests from customers. What we decided to do was inspired by our Italian team -- one of our systems engineers, along with a partner, picked up a bunch of Aruba access points drove them to a floating cruise ship that was converted into a hospital and set up a wired and wireless network in the facility for doctors and nurses to access. That was all done in a matter of days. We got inspired and said; "Hey, why don't we take this and make it something we can make available to pretty much anybody who wants it?" So, we created first the idea of a Volunteer Corps. We have the Aruba Airheads community that meets physically every year and we have over 100,000 engineers strong across our customers, partners, and employees. We basically said, "For those of you that are interested in volunteering your skills and time to help set up these temporary healthcare facilities, we would give the equipment needed to go set this up." We contributed, in kind, about $50 million worth of these healthcare kits. This was very well received in the community -- we had over 500 volunteers last I checked and over 37 countries have taken advantage of the healthcare kits.

It's really heartening to see the community stepping up to help their own communities in times of need. In addition to that, we have seen interesting extensions. The San Antonio Spurs organization -- they're an Aruba customer -- along with AT&T, opened up their parking lot for anybody who wanted access to broadband connectivity, especially those in low-income neighborhoods that may not have the access they need. We are seeing some schools also open their parking lots so people can sit in their cars and take advantage of the connectivity that they have or need access to it at various points. To me, it's really been a complete transformation in the way the last few weeks have gone from our normal course of business to really reacting to this pandemic and how we can help the communities that we live in.

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