Five Network Considerations For Remote Working

By Alex Hawkes|18 January, 2021

Many businesses put temporary measures in place last year to support remote working. With the shift to remote working appearing more long-term, businesses are now starting to think more strategically about how their networks can support a virtual workforce.

Here we look at five network considerations to support your virtual workforce…

1. What are the security risks of remote working?

According to data risk analysis firm Varonis, 53% of surveyed companies found over 1,000 sensitive files open to every employee in the company. In itself this is concerning but less so perhaps if an employee is in the office behind the corporate firewall.

When they’re on their couch, however, it’s a different story.

For the most part, when it comes to cloud-based applications or even the applications that are served from inside the corporate network, it’s not unusual for an IT administrator to have allow listed IP addresses and prefixes to give them access to various resources on the corporate network.

Your business might have to look at how you would do this at scale for all of your remote employees, which requires visibility into your traffic to see where the pinch points might be.

2. How does remote working impact the corporate network?

As more employees work from home, they are relying on VPNs to access the corporate network for their work applications. This is creating additional loads for VPN concentrators at the network edge.

“You’re asking your VPN concentrators and your global internet access circuit to suddenly handle the needs of a fully remote workforce, which means hair pinning all of this internet traffic through the corporate network. So you’re going to have to go in and augment those pinch points before you see a negative impact on the enterprise network as a whole,” says Jay Turner, VP, Development and Operations at PCCW Global.

3. How do I manage new demands on the corporate network?

Another reason why transparency and visibility over your whole network is essential, is that it’s now critical to ensure that your business applications are all up-to-date and that employees are running the most secure version.

Even for SaaS providers, as the ways of working change, new issues are being brought to light. Zoom has had something of a trial by fire during the early months of the COVID crisis and needed to fix a number of security concerns.

Businesses need to ensure applications are suitable and up to date, and think about how they communicate this to their users and roll out updates to a larger remote workforce with bandwidth constraints.

4. How do I carry out network maintenance?

Prior to the pandemic, work patterns were previously more predictable and fitted a recognisable pattern. Typically, network managers would be able to set expectations around low traffic times - evenings, weekends, holidays. But that’s all changed and we are now seeing significant lows during the day that would traditionally be evening hours.

This is problematic when it comes to network maintenance. It has been much harder to conduct scheduled network maintenance during this period of disruption to everyday business. Network redundancy is essential when carrying out any network maintenance to ensure there is no period of service disruption for your remote workers.

As a result and in the face of increased unpredictability, businesses need to increase their redundancy. One approach would be to adopt a network model that is able to flex and scale in the face of such unpredictability with connections and bandwidth that can be set up, flexed up, and torn down in near real-time.

5. How can I provide secure access to cloud services?

The working from home trend has reopened the old debate about whether the public internet is suitable for connectivity to latency and resilience sensitive applications, such as real-time collaboration or conferencing apps.

As a result, enterprises are increasingly looking for direct connectivity to the applications, cloud instances, or hosting data centres themselves.

Along with dynamic scaling and more secure access to all these resources, direct connectivity can simultaneously lower application latency and improve jitter by reducing access down to one hop instead of several.

By using dedicated private interconnections for business critical applications, your business can also reduce the volume of network traffic that is backhauled across the corporate network, while at the same time avoiding some of the security risks that come with using the public internet.

Topics: Networking
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