How a Changing Workforce Impacts IT – and Your Business

Cloud & MSP Solutions

Explore how a remote workforce impacts technology strategies and investments and how your business can thrive.

Last year, amidst a global pandemic, organizations were faced with the reality that remote work would be more than a convenience moving forward—it would become the difference between staying in business and shutting down.

The realization that teams could work together and operate productively, regardless of whether they were sitting at desks in the same building or working from home, has fundamentally shifted how business gets done. In fact, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19, according to Gartner. While workers may rejoice at the flexibility this offers, it creates new challenges for IT, and not only impacts how data centers are architected, but how data access is provided in an environment where people need access from any location, at any time, any day.

From Short-Term Fix to Long-Term Business Advantage

When remote working became the new normal, variables were introduced that impacted both user experience and corporate imperatives, such as the security of the network and corporate resources. While in the past users were onsite and relied on the corporate network, today, IT needs to account for personal wireless speeds when delivering massive amounts of data to employees working from home.

Gone are the days when IT just had to concern themselves with the square footage of a data center and connectivity within a building; in its place are new concerns about the distance between that data center and users who need to access its resources. And, of course, how to minimize the cyber exposure and risks inherent in this new business model.

Although organizations responded quickly to support a remote workforce, the solutions put in place were short-term fixes and not necessarily designed for long-term sustainability. As organizations look ahead, they’re now seeking ways to support this new business model, for example by moving to SaaS-based applications and the cloud, where access is point to point rather than relying on on-premises technology in the data center.

Although organizations responded quickly to support a remote workforce, the solutions put in place were short-term fixes and not necessarily designed for long-term sustainability.

Source: Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently, Gartner press release, April 3, 2020.

3 Key Areas to Meeting the Demands of the Changing Workforce

There are three key areas organizations need to address in order to thrive in this new business environment.

1. Minimize Cyber Exposure and Harden Your Environment

While the need to secure users, devices and your environment is not new, remote working brings with it new challenges. In March 2020, when most businesses started working remotely, global organizations saw a 148% spike in ransomware attacks. The dramatic increase in remote access exposed vulnerabilities and highlighted the need for organizations to have a security playbook in place to ensure timely action and the ability to limit areas of exposure by securing communications by any device to the office, via VPN and two-factor authentication, for example. Cisco research shows that, since the pandemic began, one of the top policy changes made in organizations has been to increase VPN capacity (59%) for remote workers.

If a breach does occur, IT teams need to be able to identify it, perform analytics on the threat, and build in remediation. Unfortunately, today it’s not a question of if a breach will happen, but when. Organizations need the processes and technologies in place to ensure that access by users and devices—regardless of where they are located—are secure and that internal and external resources are protected against malicious attack.

2. Optimize Network and Application Performance

Remember when everyone went into the office and accessed applications from their desktops? For many applications, that’s how they were designed to be used. But today’s users are accessing applications from remote locations; this can create dramatically different experiences with varying levels of performance—and frustration.

While SaaS and cloud-native applications have similar or sometimes better performance in remote environments, client-server applications designed for use on-premises can experience degraded performance when accessed off-premises. Latency associated with saving large files to a shared drive, for instance, can be tremendously frustrating for users, and also impact productivity. IT needs to reconfigure the network to ensure application and shared file system performance, the integrity of the environment, and a positive user experience in today’s environment.

3. Transitioning to Cloud

The rapid shift to remote working accelerated the transition to cloud as organizations sought to alleviate the strain on applications and on-premises resources. When it comes to transitioning on-premises applications to the cloud, however, there are several paths to cloud migration. Each comes with its own advantages and risks.

When considering the options—including rehosting an application without making major changes, replatforming an application without changing its core architecture, or rearchitecting an application from the ground up—there are cost and time considerations and trade-offs. After all, you want the benefits of cloud-native features, but you also want to manage scope and ensure that you have the right IT resources to undertake the initiative.

74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19, according to Gartner.

How we work has changed and business has evolved. IT needs to support a transition to technologies that can support what comes next.

With deep expertise and a progressive view of emerging technologies, EchoStor’s Advanced Solutions team can help you navigate change and look forward—from on-premises to cloud and beyond.


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Derek Grant

Vice President, Technical Strategy

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