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Preparing your organization for the future of work

cloud future work 

By Karen Gondoly, CEO, Leostream

To say that 2020 took us by surprise is a bit of an understatement. In the blink of an eye, we sent our workforces home and scrambled to ensure that they remained productive. And while the future will always come with an element of surprise, the process of coping with it doesn't have to be a scramble.

When organizations design systems to future-proof the workplace, both for technologies and events that may come, an organization becomes more nimble, effective, and cost efficient. So, what do you need to think about as you prepare for the future of work? To start, rethink your concept and toss your fears about remote work.

A successful CIO must embrace the fact that supporting a remote workforce has crucial business advantages. Consider all of the following.

  • A disaster recovery (DR) plan is, in essence, a remote workforce plan.

A disaster recovery plan requires you to replicate important systems, potentially in a public cloud, and make those systems accessible when users can no longer get to the office. The cloud is often a better choice for DR than replicating your datacenter in hardware, simply because of cost. If you want to leverage a public cloud for DR, look for tools that help you manage compute costs in the cloud, by automating your capacity and power state in the cloud, based on demand.

  • Even if you're not building a full DR solution, hosting certain corporate applications and data in the cloud is a fast and easy way to provide additional resources to users and switch capital expenses to operating expensive. Leveraging the cloud allows you to grow your workforce more rapidly than acquiring and configuring hardware.

Connecting users to resources in the cloud inherently models remote work, no matter where your users are located. Even if users are sitting at their desks, your cloud resources could (and should) be locked in a virtual private cloud (VPC) that requires authentication for access. Opening VPN connections into your VPC can allow blanket access to all the resources in the VPC so, instead, look for a remote access solution that provides delegated access.

  • Finally, remember that staff you sent home in 2020? In some cases, they didn't just go home, they moved their homes elsewhere in the country. Allowing existing and new employees to work from anywhere allows your organization to maintain and attract talent that it previously could not. Supporting remote work could be your ultimate hiring tool.

For any of these use cases, there are two crucial things to consider. The first is securing access to the environment. The second is narrowing down what authenticated users have access to.

When it comes to securing access, the clear requirement is multi-factor authentication. Most organizations have desktops that require username/password authentication against Active Directory. In addition, consider requiring remote users to pass MFA prior to even getting to their desktop. Developing a clear MFA strategy is key for the future of work.

Whatever solution you use to implement your MFA strategy (which often is defined for you at the corporate level) it must work well with the remote access technology you choose for delegating and connecting users to their assets. A remote access solution is the second part of the equation for future proofing your environment.

Your remote access solution acts as the gatekeeper to all of your hosted resources and, therefore, must work across hybrid environments consisting of on-premises hardware, virtual machines, and cloud-hosted machines. Finding a hybrid solution allows you to easily add and migrate between technologies as your needs change, without affecting the end-user experience.

Your remote access solution also needs to provide adequate control and monitoring of everything users are accessing. In a future where users are spread out, you need detailed tracking of who is using what and from where, to confirm the security of your systems.

Ultimately, future-proofing your organization to support the future of work is a balance of flexibility and control. As an IT department, you need the flexibility to try new technologies side-by-side with the solutions you already have, so as not to disrupt your users. You also need to control access to corporate assets, to ensure security.

To best future proof your organization, perhaps the key is not to think of the future of work as remote, but as connected. Your employees can be productive from anywhere given the correct tools. Thankfully, the technologies needed to realize that vision are at your fingertips.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Gondoly 

Karen Gondoly is the CEO of Leostream, a leading provider of secure high performance remote access.

Published Thursday, March 18, 2021 7:37 AM by David Marshall
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