By Tyler Affolter
In the mix of places to store enterprise data, given the non-trivial maintenance costs of on-prem, does on-prem make sense to keep in your mix today? What about in two years? Given that most enterprises have multiple cloud environments, does it make sense to use each of them differently, perhaps one fine-tuned for streaming live access, one primarily for backups, maybe one for disaster recovery? How many sites do you need to keep in compliance with geographies that insist on local data storage? What does your environment look like, from a technology investment perspective? What will your environment likely look like in two years?
Getting back to remote strategies, some companies have made the mistake of assuming that it’s entirely a board and senior management decision. The reality is quite different, with remote employees sometimes unwilling to give up the new flexibility they’ve become accustomed to. According to NTT’s 2021 Global Workplace Report (GWR), the fact is, when offered a choice of at-home, hybrid, or in-office working arrangements, employees are relatively evenly split between the three, at 30 percent, 30 percent, and 39 percent, respectively. This finding contradicts the belief, shared by 79 percent of organizations, that employees prefer office working – when in fact, VoE data finds that just 39 percent of employees desire full-time office working. This tells you what employees really want – aside from the option to stay remote – is flexibility. It also raises the question of whether your enterprise can profitably and operationally bring back as many people as they want. HR and recruiting might have more of a say in that than an EVP.
The answers to all of these questions are highly customized, based on the nature of your business, verticals impacted, geographies impacted, near-term and long-term plans. What are your near-term M&A expectations? Are there business units you are seriously considering selling? All of that can materially impact your ideal data strategy, which itself is overwhelmingly influenced by an enterprise’s remote site implementation.
The GWR found that the top four (4) strategies being applied to meet the demands of a modern workforce are: flexible hours, wellness, remote/hybrid work, and an improved work environment with 9 in 10 no longer seeing the workplace as a physical building. So even for those employees or contractors who do return to corporate locations, there is an excellent chance it will look far different than it did in 2019. Users aren’t necessarily sitting at their desks most of the time anymore. With social distancing and masking policies, some may choose to work in empty corners of the building or continually move where they are working or leverage physical spaces for meetings and collaboration more than the day-to-day. There are also concerns about integrating on-prem and remote workers, as well as more video in the office.
Good cybersecurity hygiene is required
The data part of your hybrid strategy is strongly influenced by remote sites, but interactions with external partners is almost as significant. The supply chain today is suffering a variety of hardships, but from a cybersecurity perspective, the biggest concern is the security posture of each partner. If you’re giving them credentials for your environment, what steps have you taken to ensure that the partner is appropriately secure? Do your current contracts require each partner to match your own security levels? Have you mandated sneak inspections and other verification mechanisms? What is the penalty if a partner is found to be non-compliant?
What about application performance, which is different than data performance? Is it best for your app to be cloud-based, sit in a private data center or perhaps even be distributed so they can operate locally? Is your enterprise optimizing your enterprise applications?
These are all critical questions for enterprise IT and Security executives to figure out before finalizing a strategy. And yet, most are so involved in internal operational decisions that they lack the distance and the context (about what others are doing, even in different verticals and geographies) to see all of the best options.
That’s where independent consultants and analysts can make a massive difference. They can come in and review all of the elements of your environment, and then make recommendations based on what other enterprises have found effective.
Such a partner can help design, implement and manage the framework of the enterprise’s infrastructure and IT connectivity. As businesses give more control to the LOB to make technology decisions necessary to support their growth initiatives, it is essential to have an operating framework to ensure security, performance, and reliability allowing organizations to focus on the business vs IT. Ensuring that not only does the organizations infrastructure perform securely, but the company has visibility into the application performance and security throughout the entire network to the user.
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