As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, social distancing and country lockdowns have rapidly and dramatically changed the way people work in the developed world, with many companies being forced to adopt remote working practices for their workforce for the foreseeable future.

This sudden increase in people working from home and in some instances, multiple people working from the same home, has put high demand on network infrastructure. This is causing contention and bandwidth issues for some. Many employees’ home internet connections are struggling to cope with the increased volume of traffic, particularly when using voice and video applications. Compounding this, many organisations have not designed their network infrastructure to deal with such large numbers of people working from home, resulting in poor end-to-end performance or limitations on the number of simultaneous connections.

The levers to pull now

To cope with the urgent demand, many organisations have deployed short-term remedial steps, that may not address all of the performance challenges and may also be sub-optimal in terms of resilience and security. Those organisations that have already deployed strategic solutions utilising some of the latest technology such as SD-WAN, cloud-based security and remote access platforms have found it less challenging to scale up to meet the current demands.

Currently, we are helping our clients to define and deliver both tactical solutions to address the immediate needs as well as strategic solutions to give the capacity, functionality, flexibility and security that is needed in this “new normal” COVID-19 world.

Tactical configuration changes

One recent example we have encountered is with a company that has leveraged both circuits of their redundant data centre WAN connection to carry active traffic, whilst also routing O365 traffic direct to Azure from the user’s internet connection. This type of approach requires an understanding of the user profiles and the applications being utilised to assess which route is best for which traffic. Security and connectivity implications also need to be considered to ensure the solution is secure, robust, reliable and sized correctly.

Change in working habits beyond COVID-19

With enforced home working, we are starting to see companies even question the need, size and location of central offices as the realisation is that many workers do not need to be all in the same office at the same time.  The change to working habits is set to have a lasting impact beyond the current pandemic as work cultures shift to remote working.

Organisations now need to think about how to enhance the network infrastructure moving forward to robustly support increased remote working demand, as well as building in the flexibility and scalability to cope with future crises and resultant sudden changes in work patterns.  This goes beyond purely network issues and should encompass the business continuity plan and necessary changes to the IT infrastructure in terms of cloud, collaboration and desktop services.

Last Piece of Advice

At Wavestone, we are all about accelerating the adoption of digital transformation. During the current pandemic, its no different. In the networks space there may well be a need to implement tactical solutions to ensure business continuity.

Nick Conway

Nick Conway

Senior Manager

It is important to identify and understand the cause of the current problems and then to deploy the best short-term solutions to alleviate the immediate pressure and address key concerns. More importantly, this crisis is highlighting the need to define and implement strategic solutions to future proof your network in a cost-effective manner to deliver the functionality, scalability, flexibility and security needed to face the future demands.