There is no difference in the productivity needed at the home office and the traditional physical office. Home based employees need to have an excellent application user experience independent of their device, location or network. They must be secure from external threats such as malware, phishing, and have strong protection against sensitive data loss.
No matter what the outcome for the current coronavirus crisis, secure work at home will become a critical requirement – one that IT must address now and in the future. For many organizations, especially smaller ones or those with a lean IT philosophy, the scale and complexity of supporting an expanded remote workforce will require IT to evaluate managed remote access solutions.
Service providers who have not traditionally emphasized remote access solutions will need to rapidly develop or improve their offerings. MSPs and CSPs have a wealth of technology options to upgrade their remote access solutions including scaled down SD-WAN appliances, cloud-based security, micro segmentation and zero trust software, and 4G/5G based solutions.
The work at home paradigm
Approximately 10% of workdays over the course of a year are done at home in the US. However, 60% of the US workforce said that they can and would like to work at home some of the time. The current situation has driven a huge spike in work at home—up to 10x in many organizations. Regardless of the length of the current stay at home requirements, organizations must plan for a permanent increase in work at home for the following reasons:
• Potential re-institution of stay at home orders this year or next
• Disaster Recovery—resiliency independent of physical location
• Employee pressure—the workforce, especially the younger members, are demanding more flexible schedules, including work at home at least some of the time
• Cost savings in terms of office space
Many organizations will find that working at home is productive and will embrace more flexible work polices. Doyle Research projects that by 2024 at least 30% of the workdays will be from home in the U.S.
Work from home requirements
IT organizations have been challenged to massively scale up their ability to support reliable, secure work at home environments. The low ratio of IT staff to employees means that remote access solutions must be easy to install, rapid to troubleshoot and (relatively) maintenance free.
The work at home architecture must enable employees to access any application—data center or cloud—from any device. Critical applications should receive priority to ensure a high quality user experience. Security must be built-in to the solution and include encryption, anti-malware and phishing protection and data loss prevention.
IT organizations should evaluate remote access-as-a-service solutions based on the following criteria:
• Ease of use and centralized management
• Level of security and ability to integrate with my existing security architecture
• Performance and application prioritization
• Reliability and support for 4G/5G
Remote access-as-a-service: Supplier examples
Aryaka delivers WAN as service across its global network. Aryaka Secure Remote Access accelerates application performance for remote/mobile employees via its clientless SD-WAN.
CloudGenix/Palo Alto Networks
CloudGenix's ION provides remote workers VPN, application prioritization and centralized management services. Palo Alto offers VPN clients with connectivity to its Prisma cloud-based security service.
Cradlepoint has been working closely with leading CSPs, including AT&T and Verizon, to deliver wireless 4G LTE solutions to enable reliable, secure connectivity for first responders and work at home professionals.
GTT offers its secure remote access service, which includes encryption and authentication. It comes integrated with GTT WAN services including secure remote office connectivity.
Interface Security Systems (ISS)
Interface offers managed remote access to enterprises as part of its broader Managed networking solution. It partners with Fortinet on Fortinet's secure remote access solution.
Tempered offers a peer-to-peer based, software client with zero trust connectivity and microsegmentation. The clients are invisible and thus can’t be targeted or hacked.
Conclusions and recommendations
Secure remote access solutions are now a critical element for most IT organizations. However, given the complexity of operation and the multitude of potential solutions, many organizations are turning to managed solutions to scale their remote access capacity.
In the next few years, the current work at home “experiment” is likely to drive significant growth in the percent of employees with remote access requirements—at least some of the time. IT teams need begin to evaluate their remote access options and prepare for longer-term solutions. These solutions must be easy to use, reliable, secure and have powerful centralized management capabilities.
Service providers are responding to market requirement by enhancing their remote access offerings. Over time, they will better integrate their remote access offerings with their overall network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions, including SD-WAN.
Lee Doyle is Principal Analyst at Doyle Research, providing client focused targeted analysis on the Evolution of Intelligent Networks. He has over 25 years’ experience analyzing the IT, network, and telecom markets. Lee has written extensively on such topics as SDN, NFV, enterprise adoption of networking technologies, and IT-Telecom convergence. Before founding Doyle Research, Lee was Group VP for Network, Telecom, and Security research at IDC. Lee holds a B.A. in Economics from Williams College. He can be reached at [email protected] and follow him @leedoyle_dc
Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by Fierce staff. They do not represent the opinions of Fierce.