Rethinking Work from Anywhere (WFx) Technologies
Work environments changed almost overnight when businesses were faced with keeping their employees and customers safe during COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Companies were forced in real time to scale how they supported their remote workforce.
Pressed for time, IT leaders made tactical decisions. Emergency bandwidth upgrades, additional hardware deployments and license feature and quantity upgrades were all common decisions that needed to be made, and fast. These changes provided a quick fix to a time-sensitive, critical business challenge: how to support a larger than normal remote workforce, while keeping business operations up and running. Even though we aren’t out of our current pandemic predicament, companies now have time to reevaluate and deploy solutions that help to improve performance and optimize security. These solutions need to support cloud first architectures, collaboration and office applications and a mix of end user locations.
The hybrid workforce needs to access a variety of cloud-based applications, such as office application suites and collaboration tools to effectively do their jobs. Accessing these tools creates a need for secure, reliable access to cloud resources. Companies are thus faced with a challenge created by legacy architectures. Centralized hardware-based remote access platforms are not designed to support a cloud first architecture. They were designed to support a hub and spoke architecture, where the majority of applications lived in a corporate data center. Applications need a remote access platform that supports compute across multiple cloud environments, the edge and on-premises, both public or private. This platform needs to integrate security, visibility and traffic optimization to ensure a good user experience for their workers.
Experts are building platforms to support these challenges that include Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Services Edge (SASE). If designed and implemented correctly, these technologies help solve the networking challenges associated with a hybrid workforce.
The optimal solution provides the following capabilities:
- Unified Management and Reporting
- Allows for consistent policy administration and visibility across the entire workforce. This reduces complexity and provides the ability to administer a secure network, regardless of the end point location.
- Options for Client, Thin and Thick Branch Endpoint Types
- The hybrid workforce requires support of a variety of endpoints, from individual remote users, to shared workspaces to major corporate offices.
- Cloud, Edge, and End Point Security
- Security policy is dictated by a variety of requirements, including end point type, application location and underlying networking considerations. Flexibility is needed to apply the appropriate security posture no matter the scenario.
- Application Aware Routing and Path Optimization
- Network policy should be configurable to intelligently discover and route applications based on priority and performance criteria, and have the ability to mitigate underlying transport issues.
Coronavirus has forever changed the way work and live. In a recent survey, Slack found that 72% of workers prefer a hybrid mix of working from remote and going into an office. And higher levels of overall job satisfaction and work/life balance is a byproduct of our new work from home environments. It is clear companies will need to continue to support their new WFx environments – and finding the right technologies to support hybrid work environments is crucial to keep businesses humming. SD-WAN and SASE will play an important role in building secure network environments that support WFx and the hybrid workforce.
For help architecting your organization’s go-forward strategy for supporting – and securing – new work environments, contact a Lumen IT expert today.
Learn more about Lumen SD-WAN.
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