Kurt Huegin | Director, Network Solutions
vCORE Technology Partners | Aug. 31, 2020
It’s been nearly six months since the majority of us were sent home to work due to Covid-19. Did you think it would last this long back in March? I didn’t! If I had, I probably would’ve been doing some upgrades on my home office. I’m kind of thinking I should have put a coffee maker by my desk, but alas I’ll have to trudge the 30 feet to my kitchen. 😊
It got me thinking though about most of the clients I’ve engaged with over the past six months. If they had known about the huge spike in work from home, the duration of the remote work, and WEREN’T rushed to get everyone connected, what would they have done differently?
While clearly the de facto standard was to stand up a bunch of VPN tunnels, I think with time we could have done better. As far back (and it feels far) as 2019, Network World was calling the VPN dead. After all, if there’s a chance an end user or their machine is infected, do you really want to bring them in — with full privileges — to your network? And if they’re headed for the cloud or a SaaS offering, why are they even coming back to your data center anyway?
The truth is that whether we like it or not, remote work is here to stay. Certainly we’ll yo-yo back, but likely not in the same fashion. Cisco is closing all but eight of their offices across the country. Nationwide announced a total hybrid model, closing many locations. And even for the companies planning a return to work, mid-2021 seems to be a popular date.
So if we can agree we’ve got some time, now what?
Consider adopting a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) framework for your remote users.
Move a full security stack to a cloud as close to the user as possible. This not only allows for efficient routing, but it also allows you to deliver a consistent policy across ALL of your remote users/locations. What’s more, it gets you out of the management nightmare of configuring, patching, upgrading, and integrating a whole host of security tools.
SASE is quickly becoming a vendor smorgasbord, but here are some key things to consider:
- Where/which clouds are they hosting from? And will your users have access to them or is it just on a pretty map? What SLA’s will they commit to?
- What protocols are they inspecting? Traditional proxies may not secure all the applications/use cases you need it to.
- How comfortable are you with their roadmap? You get simplicity in exchange for giving up control. You need to have full confidence in the end to end story.
Provide an always-on experience for your executives.
Video drives trust and will be required for effective remote communication. Make sure your leadership team has easy, dedicated video infrastructure that seamlessly ties into something like WebEx, Zoom, or MSFT Teams.
Consider an always-on “branch in a box” that can simply plug into a home modem. All the major SD-WAN providers have ROBO solutions that make this easy. I would consider WiFi a must, otherwise your executives would likely be going “back in time” from their current home network setup. Just remember, if you don’t have a standard, a standard will arise around you!
Use the empty office to your advantage.
Yes, we’re talking about remote workers, but in the spirit of planning ahead, NOW’S YOUR CHANCE. The opportunity cost has never been lower. The top projects we’re seeing to take advantage of this are:
- Wireless upgrades: It will only be more important when people are forced to hotel. Easy mucking about the ceilings without people below them!
- Layer 1: No, not sexy, but imagine having to take an office outage to swap out a generator six months after getting back into the office. In addition to replacements, consider now is THE TIME for things like inspecting/replacing batteries and running tests.
- SD-WAN: Again, low risk to an office outage, and these SD-WAN appliances can be seamlessly extended for home offices.
- Cloud networking: This has only grown in importance with Covid-19, but a lot of customers are reconsidering their connectivity strategy to not just HQ, but the cloud. Do yourselves a favor — create a reference architecture and pick a technology that will allow you to replicate it across all your clouds/regions.
Here at vCORE we’re helping our customers navigate these choices. Our goal is to look back with you six months from now and say, “Sure glad we did that!” If we can help you as you navigate your organization’s new world, please reach out.
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