5 Ways Remote Work is Changing How IT Leaders Approach Networking

BrandPost By Aruba experts
Mar 03, 2022
Remote Work

The shift to remote work is creating challenges for IT network architectures and management. IT teams now must provide connectivity, security, and support to remote locations that are on par with the on-campus experience.

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Credit: iStock

By: Eve-Marie Lanza, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, Aruba.

Remote “work from anywhere” models are now not only possible but quite desirable. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the global economy in early 2020, these models became increasingly prevalent. Since then, work from home (WFH) has become a critical part of many organizations.

Remote work adoption shows no signs of slowing. A survey conducted by PwC revealed that a large majority, 83% of employers surveyed in late 2020, said the shift to remote work had proved to be successful for their respective businesses. Meanwhile, more than half of employees have come to expect remote work opportunities at least part time. 

Many employees, having experienced long stretches of remote or home-work setups, are eager to maintain some workplace flexibility—and employers are taking notice. Organizations are now seeking efficient ways to make permanent remote work sustainable.

IT responds to remote work preferences 

The now inevitable long-term shift to regular remote work is creating challenges for IT network architectures and management. IT teams now must provide connectivity, security, and support to remote locations that are on par with the on-campus experience. However, that can be difficult for a variety of reasons.

  1. More network locations to manage. With remote work becoming a more permanent fixture, enterprise networking teams must now manage and support hundreds—if not thousands—of new, geographically dispersed, non-IT staffed home office locations.
  1. Demanding business productivity applications to support. Organizations are relying on low-latency, high-bandwidth applications like video conferencing for business productivity. IT teams need to ensure a similar experience for on-campus and remote users.
  1. Challenging IT issues to troubleshoot remotely. Research from IDC shows that many businesses with a distributed workforce have remote users that experience IT issues multiple times a week. Those IT issues can be difficult to resolve without full visibility into the home office network as root causes could lie beyond the corporate network at the ISP level. 
  1. New expansion of remote work. Organizations looking to increase the benefits of remote work are now extending the practice to traditionally collocated employees, such as contact center agents. Digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic also unlocked new use cases across industries. In healthcare, for example, telehealth visits are becoming standard, as is the use of temporary locations such as mobile clinics and health screening kiosks. These new use cases create new demands on IT for remote network security, reliability, and performance.
  1. Growing cyberthreat landscape. With the addition of hundreds or thousands of remote-work office connections comes the potential for increased security risk. Cyberattacks, such as ransomware, are increasing at an alarming rate. Networking and security teams are grappling with how to extend on-campus Zero Trust and secure access service edge (SASE) frameworks to an ever-expanding array of remote locations at the edge.

Reimagined home-office networking solutions 

For IT teams considering how to normalize network architectures for permanent remote and hybrid work, here are key questions to keep in mind while evaluating potential work-from-home IT solutions:

  • Can the solution scale and adapt to business needs? Ideal solutions can accommodate the changing dynamics of the business, providing flexibility to extend secure, reliable, high-performance networking at home to every employee that needs it—not just the executive team.
  • Can IT provide the same user experience for remote workers? Enabling secure remote access via the home network is not just about a seamless user experience; it’s also about providing remote IT support teams the same visibility, comprehensive security tools, and ease of management they experience on-campus.
  • How will IT manage remote locations? The benefits of work-from-home solutions can be outweighed by increasing hardware costs, setup complexity, and the need to manage multiple pieces of networking hardware and software within the remote location.

Work from home with the EdgeConnect Microbranch solution

Building on Aruba remote access point (RAP) technology, EdgeConnect Microbranch provides organizations with a massively scalable way to power remote work at home, in small satellite offices, and even temporary locations. EdgeConnect Microbranch leverages the cloud-native Aruba Central network management solution and any Aruba Wi-Fi access point—no gateway, agent, or appliance is required at the remote site.

EdgeConnect Microbranch builds on existing cloud-managed Wi-Fi capabilities like zero-touch provisioning and role-based access control with services such as intelligent policy-based routing; dynamic tunnel and route orchestration; enhanced WAN troubleshooting tools; and SASE integration, all available through the AI-powered Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP). 

IT teams can now experience greater control and visibility into the remote network, without the additional overhead of multiple pieces of on-premises hardware or appliances. IT can optimize the remote network to ensure that off-site employees experience the same quality of service and access to resources as they do on campus, all while protecting against security threats that won’t interfere with remote worker productivity.

Learn more about EdgeConnect Microbranch on the Aruba Work From Home solutions web page.