16 February 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an incomprehensible impact on the daily life of people across the globe, and the business world has been no different. From retail businesses to technology companies, the coronavirus has caused massive disruptions to enterprise infrastructures.
As we move into 2021, organisations can start adapting and re-imagining themselves in the disrupted marketplace, by identifying new opportunities for growth and success. The past year has shown us that businesses who are highly adaptable and flexible will fare better, so it’s now time to take the lessons learnt in the pandemic and look forward to enterprise network trends forecasted for 2021.
Rise of online workspaces
The coronavirus has changed the way that we work forever. With most employees working from home, we have seen the rise of online workspaces. In this new digital age, technologies have been vital in improving communication and collaboration, to ensure workers can complete their work as effectively and efficiently as they would have in the office environment. These include cloud-based communication and data solutions which allow businesses to run from anywhere in the world, with ease. Many companies have been maximising the benefits of using cloud based solutions as they create secure environments to easily access and share data, as well as facilitating the tools needed to communicate with colleagues in real time. As a result, employees have been able to better adapt to working remotely using devices like laptops or desktops at home.
The recent Future Forum Research from Slack found that out of 4,700 knowledge workers surveyed, the majority never want to return to their old ways of working. In fact, only 12% want to return to full-time office work and a staggering 72% want their employers to implement a hybrid remote-office model moving forward. This puts more pressure on companies to meet the increasing ‘work-from-anywhere’ expectations and it’s likely that we will see more businesses investing in resources to safely simplify and automate network complexity.
Increasing security measures
Many traditional network infrastructures were not created to support the rapidly developing digital ecosystems and can no longer provide the levels of security and control required. With traffic no longer from one central company data centre, but multiple cloud based locations and virtual workspaces, it has become increasingly difficult to manage. Businesses should take a step back to consider the emerging security risks of working from home, in terms of systems access, internal network infrastructures and bandwidth. One of the easiest ways that organisations can secure data as it moves from internal systems to external devices is to deploy a VPN. This provides an additional layer of security by hiding the user’s IP address and encrypting data transfers in transit.
It’s also important to make sure up-to-date security protection is installed and active on all devices used by employees at home and in the office. This includes virus checkers, firewalls and device encryption. Businesses may also consider running an audit on employee passcodes, to ensure that all are reset and redefined in line with the company’s security policy. Alphanumeric codes and two-factor authentication are recommended as this applies the strongest possible security protection across all employee devices.
Investing in a remote access solutions
When employees are working from the office, it’s easy for them to access the company’s network. However, with remote working becoming a more permanent solution, employees will continue to require access to resources from home, meaning many companies are considering tools that offer scalability and flexibility as we move into 2021.
Dongle servers will easily allow employees to access their work from home and share USB dongle devices via the network. Not only can dongles be used via LAN connections, but also via VPN, VLAN, and the Internet. This ensures employees can stay productive whether they are working from home or in the office. With an encrypted point-to-point connection between the user and the dongle server, businesses can dynamically assign which employee is authorised to access each dongle, ensuring everyone can retrieve everything they need. Users can also request access as soon as a license becomes available, and once the software has been used by that individual, it will be securely relocated to the next in line.
Future of enterprise networks
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way that businesses operate, and its effects will last for the foreseeable future. At the start of the coronavirus, many companies were left grappling to adapt to remote working environments and unprecedented circumstances. While the new normal is still on the horizon, it's time to look to the future and adjust to new enterprise network trends.
The biggest ongoing challenge will be facilitating the demand for remote working, as most employees have now become accustomed to the flexibility and convenience that it brings. We can expect to see a rise in hybrid working, as Covid-19 has clearly demonstrated that work can happen anywhere when it's digitised and connected. Hybrid environments will support flexible arrangements, replace dedicated offices and allow resources to be deployed when necessary. As a result, it’s important for businesses to make sure that they have the right software and hardware tools available to support their enterprise networks, in addition to solid security measures and remote access capabilities.