The COVID-19 global health pandemic has changed the way we work – possibly for good.
In March, government imposed lockdowns saw IT teams having to implement remote working on an unprecedented scale. Six months on, and despite government exhortations that people should return to workplaces, the latest figures from the ONS reveal that in October, 24% of the UK workforce was still working exclusively from home.
What’s more, indications are that things are never quite going to go back to the way they were before coronavirus hit.
Indeed, research by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that in the future firms intend to adopt a mixed approach when it comes to where employees work. A recent IoD survey of almost 1,000 directors found that three-quarters anticipated more home-working was on the cards after the pandemic, and more than half had plans to reduce their long term use of workplaces.
Signs are that as bandwidth consumption continues to grow, more and more organisations will be investing in network infrastructure as workforce models continue to transform.
Dealing with disruption – SD-WAN adoption goes mainstream
As the work-from-home model becomes the established ‘new normal’, supporting remote workers has become a top priority for IT teams.
Back when the first wave of coronavirus initially struck, organisations had to pivot at speed and adopt a whole new universe of office technologies – everything from collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx to Zoom or Skype web-conferencing, as well as project and task management powered by tools like Trello.
For many companies that meant focusing hard on increasing enterprise connectivity, so that cloud-based applications like Microsoft Office 365 performed as expected.
Unsurprisingly, adoption levels of software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions soared as network managers took advantage of the inherent flexibility, scalability, efficiency, and security offered by SD-WAN.
Delivering deep visibility into end-to-end network and application performance as well as the remote user experience, SD-WAN proved a life saver for those responsible for keeping business networks up and running during lockdown and beyond.
But with networks now an increasingly critical part of business operations, there is one issue that is continues to keep IT managers up at night.
Security and business continuity top IT concerns
The rapid rise of the remote working trend has catapulted a new necessity to prominence – achieving secure remote access and performance for cloud applications.
Having taken care of connectivity, IT leaders are now having to focus on assessing security and controlling gaps to stop cybercriminals who are proving only too eager to take advantage of the opportunities created by the shift from on-site to remote working.
As a result, many organisations are considering the benefits of converging the network and security into a single strategy – and moving to a cloud-powered secure access service edge (SASE) model.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt cloud-delivered SASE services, up from less than 1% at the end of 2018.
Because if there is one thing that has been highlighted by the disruption created by COVID-19, it’s the fact that business continuity plans must include flexible anytime, anywhere, secure remote access at scale. Even from trusted devices.
The good news is that SASE makes it possible for security teams to deliver secure networking and security services in the consistent manner that’s needed to support digital business transformation and workforce mobility.
Success, however, depends on having an SD-WAN solution that is able to handle the cloud-based delivery of SASE services. Because without having a cloud-based SASE framework in place, organisations will need to invest in expensive software and continually update policies manually. Losing valuable time and productivity along the way.
Fortunately, when it comes to securing critical networks and business assets, combating risks and supporting organisations to put the right network solutions in place to thrive in this new normal – we’ve got all the expertise and insight needed.