David Turner, Managing Director of MSC Digital, outlines a simple approach to transform your technology to support your remote workforce
The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to examine the way they work and interact. The need to isolate our people for their safety, whilst continuing to operate effectively and efficiently, has brought into sharp focus the need for staff to have access to the technology, information and digital services they need to do their job from any geographic location.
Experts agree that however, the global response to COVID-19 plays out a “new normal” will emerge, with Gartner predicting that “the vast majority of organisations will implement remote work as work-as-usual for certain types of jobs, either fully or partially.”
Organisations have embraced online video and teleconferencing solutions (such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet) and modern digital collaboration tools (such as Microsoft 365 and Google G Suite) – advancing or, in some cases, beginning their digital transformation journey almost without realising it.
For most organisations, though, much remains of the rigid legacy design and physical infrastructure which is not designed to meet the needs of a remote workforce.
Traditional infrastructure environments – with physical data centres full of racks of server hardware accessed via VPNs, physical firewalls and “walled garden” networking – are, by their very nature, complex and tightly integrated, often with heavily bespoke elements.
In most cases, this infrastructure reduces rather than enables the efficacy of a remote workforce. It also doesn’t scale easily and can’t be quickly or easily changed.
A new paradigm
When you strip down what all your infrastructure actually does – the challenge isn’t particularly complex:
- Your staff need to connect their device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) to your data, digital services and applications.
- This must happen in a secure and controlled way.
- You need to manage which elements of your data and services your users can access.
Traditionally – when staff members were physically located in specific locations (your offices) – this was achieved with multiple layers of infrastructure and hardware placed between the user and the services and data.
With a remote workforce becoming the new norm – and the concept of a “perimeter” to your physical and technology estate disappearing almost overnight – it’s time for a new paradigm.
In this new, mobile world, cloud-native identity management, device management, assured connectivity and security services offer the simplest, most effective and efficient solution.
Regardless of the size or purpose of your organisation, very few components are actually required to ensure your staff can work effectively from almost any location:
- A modern wireless device.
- Internet connectivity.
- Cloud-based Endpoint Management (UEM/MDM) service.
- Cloud-based Identity and Access Management (IDAM) service.
- Cloud-based productivity tools (Microsoft 365 or Google G Suite).
- SaaS applications (with SSO).
- Cloud hosting for your digital services and data (and any legacy applications which cannot be consumed as SaaS).
- Digital communications tools (Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet).
There are very few moving parts and all of these cloud commodity services are available right now (via G Cloud).
Moving from your legacy environment to this new “access anywhere” world isn’t particularly complex if you take a modular approach and look for flexible and adaptable services that will let you change isolated parts as necessary without having to transform a whole system.
Rethink your network
Connecting a large, widely dispersed remote workforce to your data and services requires a rethink to the traditional networking approach.
Routing every interaction through physical infrastructure such as firewalls, load balancers and other on-premise hardware was fine when all your staff were based in locations you managed and controlled, but becomes a burden to performance, productivity and user experience when your staff are remote.
When you trust your endpoints (users’ devices and the service they are connecting to), there is no need to trust the transport mechanism (your WAN) and the internet becomes the only network you need, providing fast, resilient and always-on connectivity from any internet-connected location – something which is becoming essential rather than “nice to have” with our current COVID-19 challenges.
About MSC Digital
MSC Digital is an independent consultancy formed specifically to assist government, public sector and third sector organisations with cloud transformation of their technology environments.
Since 2014, our team has transformed legacy technology platforms for several large government departments, providing users with access to the technology, information, and digital services they need from any internet-connected location.
If we can assist you with your digital technology transformation journey for your new remote workforce, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for an obligation-free discussion. You can also find us on G-Cloud in the Digital Marketplace and on the Digital Outcomes and Specialists (DOS) Framework.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
More About Stakeholder
MSC Digital – Technology transformation for the Public Sector
MSC Digital is an independent organisation formed specifically to assist HMG and the UK Public Sector with cloud and technology transformation.
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