Like their counterparts around the world, Australian businesses spent much of the last year in crisis mode. At the same time as protecting their people and reinventing their delivery models, they were attempting to identify opportunities. There were some remarkable adjustments: rum distillers made hand sanitiser, industrial manufacturers sidestepped to making ventilators, and clothing manufacturers added face masks to their fashion collections. While making fewer headlines, IT professionals were equally inventive, finding ways to help people to work remotely, while supporting these new ventures.
This kind of invention and reinvention is where our IT community shines. EU research arm Cordis describes creativity and innovation in technology as ‘key to competing in a global economy’1, and whether solving problems or dreaming up new ideas, technologists are the key to our future. One of the challenges, though, is finding enough time to dream up the next big thing when also juggling the day-to-day demands of networking and infrastructure. While cloud technologies have helped in many ways, they also require a rethink of the underlying network.
Traditional networking technology was designed for a different era, when most people worked on-premise most of the time, and cloud was yet to emerge as a mainstream option. Until 2020, the shift in workplace behaviours was gradual, but when a global pandemic struck, with the subsequent lockdowns, even the most office-bound found themselves working remotely. As the situation eases, few organisations expect to go back to the way they were. 75% of workers expect their employers to support their future work from home plans. On average, employees would like to work from home two days per week.2
As you’d expect, network traffic patterns are markedly different since the advent of cloud. The drastic, rapid increase in remote working has amplified the effect, and exposed the limitations of older technologies. One of the bigger challenges is visibility when users are far from the physical boundaries of the organisation, and perhaps working on multiple devices to make the work-from-home situation work for them. This lack of visibility puts IT teams on a reactive footing, responding to problems after they have already impacted users. IT professionals may be extraordinary problem solvers, but nobody wants to spend the bulk of their time fire-fighting when there is a future to build.
Security challenges have also emerged. After a few initial hiccups, many workers have learned to embrace the freedom and convenience of flexible working. Along with that freedom comes increased risk. More data is created and stored on devices at the edge, and aside from missing the opportunity of managing that data, there is also the possibility that it can be lost or compromised when it is outside the organisation’s direct control.
Even within the confines of the organisation’s physical environment, the expectation is to have a reliable, secure network connection anywhere, without being chained to a desk. Whether in a smaller business in Ballarat, or a top of town high-rise in Collins Street, modern Wi-Fi has moved from a wish-list item to an essential. For the IT team, then, managing a wired network, Wi-Fi technology, and dealing with the work-from-home contingent, the potential for overload is high.
Fortunately, vendors like Aruba are one step ahead here. They put their own creative innovators onto the case, and the resulting Aruba ESP range hit the market recently to deserved applause. Perhaps the most important development in this new generation of built-for-cloud infrastructure is the level of visibility afforded to administrators. Everything – wired, Wi-Fi and cloud – can be seen via an intuitive management console. Given IT workers are as subject as anyone to frequently changing COVID restrictions, the ability to manage the network remotely is a big plus. Ease of management has traditionally been an Aruba strength, and they don’t disappoint with this latest offering.
Another big plus is the advances in security that businesses can enjoy with the new breed of network. In the case of Aruba ESP, the products incorporate their Zero Trust Security capabilities. Aside from the visibility enhancements, this covers micro-segmentation and control, as well as continuous monitoring and enforcement. The controls applied on-campus can also be applied to home users, while beefed up authentication and access control measures add to the stronger defence. The use of AI has changed the way that risks are identified, with suspect patterns of behaviour quickly identified and isolated – something made easier by the increased level of automation in play.
It would also be remiss not to mention the Intelligent Edge technology that is now integrated into the network design. This development means that connectivity and compute services are orchestrated centrally, with the data generated by devices and users at the edge processed close to where it is generated. This allows for real-time data analysis, so that the business and its users can action insights immediately. We’re seeing organisations uncovering new efficiencies and improving business outcomes thanks to this improvement alone.
Leading Networking Experts
Our specialists are enterprise level networking experts, with capability to perform investigations and implementation of onsite network projects which will inevitably drive performance and security dividends. Taking a step back and getting a full picture is valuable in improving user experience and business performance, but it is something that can be put aside among the competing priorities of many IT teams.
Time to investigate whether your network is working hard enough for your organisation? Contact our expert team to gain more insights into your network.