The evolution of the network for the hybrid workplace
By Genius Wong, Director of Product and Technology, Tata Communications
The past few months have dramatically altered the digital transformation journey of most organizations, especially with strategizing on aspects of business continuity and digitization, and ensuring the productivity of a workforce. remote and distributed work.
As organizations progress, in addition to continuity and resiliency, the ability to deliver high-quality digital experiences to employees, customers and partners will become the cornerstone of digital investments. This is an increasingly critical need; in a recent survey, only 46% of CEOs and COOs believed their organizations were capable of delivering a high-quality user experience throughout their value chain.
Going further, many global organizations now recognize the need to transform their conventional networks, which operated on a star model, to meet the dynamic emerging needs of businesses. Almost half of survey respondents said their business productivity declined during the crisis due to connection issues.
Here are some of the common areas that businesses might grapple with, in the new hybrid world as well as the transition to delivering quality digital experiences to employees and customers.
Transition to Cloud First and Internet First
Traditional enterprise network architectures were neither designed for the cloud nor intended to facilitate digital transformation (IDC, 2020)
In a hybrid workplace, organizations want to foster cohesive and transparent collaboration both internally and with customers in a secure manner across the world. A key factor in achieving this is to adopt a strategy focused on the cloud and the Internet. By taking this step, they are moving away from a distributed architecture and a hub-and-spoke enterprise network. Therefore, their dependence on traditional enterprise networks and fixed design is no longer a barrier to operations.
However, moving to the cloud and using the internet creates two major challenges:
1) Design of the network architecture to allow accessibility to data and applications in the cloud; and
2) Provide security. Of course, working from anywhere will include using the public Internet to access critical business applications and systems.
Businesses need to ensure they can provide secure and transparent remote access to key business applications over untrusted networks and strike the right balance between providing security and not making access too difficult. There is also the added complexity of managing multiple internet service providers around the world and navigating different geographic regulations, which can quickly become a major overload with a workforce spread across the globe.
Integrate more intelligence
By the end of 2024, 75% of companies will switch from piloting to operationalizing AI, which will lead to a 5-fold increase in data streaming and analytics infrastructures (Gartner, 2020)
The new architecture of this hybrid working environment must not only be agile, scalable and flexible, but also embrace AI and ML, for example, using AI to help with capacity planning and network management. in a more dynamic and agile way. AI and ML and associated data analytics will help simplify service and network management. Using ML, businesses can perform predictive and proactive network management by examining data and trends to take preventative action quickly. These will be the main industry trends and will continue to evolve as we move towards 2022.
Optimize and build a new hybrid network for more efficiency and productivity
The pandemic has prompted a recalibration of cloud strategies, where collaboration, mobility and virtual desktops are rapidly moving to the cloud to enable a distributed and secure workforce (Gartner, 2021)
This new network architecture, encompassing the internet, cloud and intelligence, will need to support both the new digital business model and the new hybrid work environment. Solutions need to reduce costs, but also deliver consistent user performance, a consistent service level agreement (SLA), and full visibility. An example use case is a global bank looking to achieve superior site-to-site communications and accelerate cloud adoption.
To do this, they need to adopt a strategy that provides internet connections to all its various branches across India from a public cloud provider. This would help it not only to reduce costs, but also to optimize performance. Likewise, with a pharmaceutical company perhaps migrating its global network from Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) to a hybrid environment – combining both MPLS and the Internet would help it save money and provide a “single window”. », Offering greater visibility and control over all networks. In each of these scenarios, these companies save money and benefit from a flexible network, necessary for a productive hybrid workplace.
Build an agile network architecture
By 2022, SD-WAN will be adopted by 67% of organizations (IDC, 2020)
In a hybrid world, the key is to find the right balance of connectivity between the office and your telecommuters. To do this, you need to examine:
– Where is the traffic coming from and how to redirect it so that the access gateways are not congested
– How much data should be on the Internet
– How much can be “burst” and how much can be stopped? For example, one country could be in the middle of a lockdown while another country could see workers returning to the office
– Ultimately, how you can dynamically detect and move traffic
To solve this problem, you need an agnostic network that deploys quickly to meet dynamic business needs. Software Defined Networking (SD-WAN) is part of the solution; for example, a new site can be provisioned remotely. In addition, there is also a need for on-demand solutions, especially with connectivity to a large data center and cloud provider. Essentially, the panacea is being able to select the kind of connectivity capacity you need per hour, per day, and for how long you need it, all under the control of the customer.
Protect your business from the new risks that are exposed in this new model
Enterprise, guest, approved, and unapproved devices all pose a risk to the business if I&O managers do not properly coordinate when and how they will be connected. (Gartner, 2021)
Security is essential to enable a hybrid workplace, moving from a perimeter-based security model with IP addresses and locations to an adaptive access policy approach using built-in endpoint management tools. identity and security. This approach allows organizations to assess risk based on user identity and device trust. This is to enable a comprehensive and continuous endpoint risk assessment or unified endpoint management.
Finally, the real agility will be the on-demand network; dynamically move connectivity up and down with a guaranteed SLA. Using AI and ML, this provisioning could be automated – with the ability to activate and decommission fully supported without human intervention.
To conclude, the internal network and the external network are no longer two distinct worlds. Businesses need an integrated policy for both, which means they can start deploying new technologies and reap the rewards. It’s time to create a truly dynamic network for an unpredictable hybrid world.
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