Re-imagine Return to Office with an improved network architecture
Yesterday's connectivity methodologies simply won't do given how much as changed because of COVID

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Have you taken a close look at your network lately? You should, because chances are it’s woefully out-of-date. While it was and likely still is functional and pragmatic, it simply no longer meets today’s technology – and more importantly – business needs.

Most networks, architected long before COVID became the defining event of our time, were built around control and predictability. While this type of mindset helped keep large-scale infrastructure stable and mostly bulletproof, it also created rigid environments that lacked flexibility and limited an organization’s growth and agility.

These legacy environments also left significant amounts of data unused. The network itself contains data about devices, users, and even behavior. This data, when harvested properly, can be leveraged to provide wisdom and insights which the business can use to protect and differentiate itself.

A different world

At the same time, almost everything about the world of work has changed. More devices are connecting than ever before, and these devices are generating more data. Users are more mobile than ever before, and the applications they access live in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

As organizations plan and implement their return to work (RTO) strategies, those roadmaps must account for many moving parts such as hybrid work environments, hoteling, hot desking and more. Understanding each department within an organization’s unique requirements is essential, including workflow, roles, access and bandwidth needs. IT is challenged to apply these requirements across an evolving hybrid infrastructure. This challenge casts a significant shadow over IT. Carolina Milanesi, President and Principal Analyst with Creative Strategies says, “Returning to work is going to be much more complicated than when we all went remote.”

An IoT explosion

A recent Statista forecast shows internet-connected devices will grow from $8.7 billion in 2020 to $25.4 billion. This extreme growth of devices extends an environment’s attack surface, but at the same time all these additional devices generate intelligence that a business can use to help protect itself. Even better, all that data allows an organization to differentiate itself amongst its competitors. It’s already happening, too: for example, avocado farmers in southern California are leveraging sensor-based technologies to maximize their production through automating their hydration systems.

The pandemic continues to push network and security engineers to support an organization’s RTO and deliver on the promise of secure borderless networks. More simply, end users need to access their applications and data from anywhere. Legacy technologies and implementation practices fail to address the required flexibility and provide an uneven user experience when users roam between corporate campuses and work from home environments.

New paradigms are needed

Organizations seek a platform approach to make their hybrid workforce productive and effective and making RTO seamless. Supporting a secure remote workforce through modern implementation practices and better architecture create a seamless transition for this new class of hybrid workers. Most importantly, these new ways allow network and security administrators to maintain meaningful levels of visibility regardless of where users and their devices are, or how they move.

Just as end users have become portable, their applications have as well. Modern applications commonly live in either a virtual or container mode; either need to be architected to accommodate portability. More importantly, there should be no change in user experience as these applications move between clouds. Modern networking can be architected and implemented to accommodate this portability and minimize or eliminate any degradation of service.

As Creative Strategies’ Milanesi says, “The acceleration in digital transformation has switched the mindset of organizations from doing the same things just with technology, to using technology as an enabler of new business models and new workflows.”

A cultural shift

The good news is that all of this is possible, but it requires changing how we think and operate. We can no longer work in silos. At the same time, we must evolve our thinking in terms of workload, workforce, and workplace strategies. Thinking in these terms allows us to keep the most important thing at the top of our mind, the customer experience. These terms also allow thinking in terms of end-to-end connectivity, visibility, and integrated security.

This way of thought allows organizations of any size, in any sector, to reap the benefits of the data contained within the network. You can explore this platform approach in the following eBook, Enabling Your Remote Teams with Cisco Technology.

SHI has skilled and experienced engineers whose sole task is to help our customers navigate this evolving landscape. Using a structured approach, we help our customers identify their challenges, prioritize their goals and outline the steps to achieve them.

Talk to our team to see how our workshop can jumpstart your RTO efforts.