Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes
9th October 2020
Much has been written about the way COVID-19 has changed home working forever (including by me) and it really does seem that it has been an accelerator for change in many areas of IT.
The move to remote working has moved the goalposts in many areas. Two key areas have tended to be:
In the Enterprise space, this initially was the shift of users away from being on the LAN to being (usually) on a Remote Access solution of some sort (often a VPN). Apart from a few initial issues at the start with concurrency and scale (which were solved very quickly), this has been a case of changing the capacity of the network design.
Crucially, the design itself worked. The IT teams around the world generally coped and business continued to function.
The largest single change to the way offices work has been the adoption of video and collaboration tools. Zoom and Teams are the big winners in all this and many IT teams were amazed by how quickly users took to tools that traditionally had been pushed back on for years.
The time had come for video, and because these tools rely on “the Cloud” for delivery, it was possible for IT teams to relatively simply get these tools out the door quickly, or scale solutions that were already there.
Again – it worked!
Bringing the Tactical back into Strategy
The big question being faced now is how to update plans for the future based on the massive shifts that have been seen. And this is where it starts to get interesting…
Underlying the IT infrastructure designs that many organisations still continue to run has been a networking fundamental that’s been in place since the beginning of IT…The LAN.
The IT world has been built for a long, long time based on the premise of creating a trusted network in your buildings and data centres. You then protect this network from the outside world (the internet) and if you’re outside this protected zone then you have to find a way to remotely get back in to get any work done (the VPN).
If you think about it, this design is based on two fundamentals – there is more stuff inside than there is outside (computers and data) and that you have buildings to put it in. Otherwise, the design starts to look flawed (and also rather expensive)…and guess what? Think about that Zoom call from home running over a VPN to then go back out to the internet… this is the problem in a nutshell. It works (kind of), but it’s far from optimal and it’s not using much of the kit you’ve spent a fortune on!
Thanks to COVID-19, we’re already talking about a long term shift to remote/home working and most companies are seriously looking at their office real estate in the background as a result. One of the anchors for the traditional network design is where you put all the kit! If your office is either not going to be there or even becoming something that is a more fluid/flexible space (shared office as an example), then it starts to undermine the whole design.
Meanwhile, the other anchor for the network design (the data centre) is also shifting. All that video collaboration probably isn’t even using it!! The long talked about shift to the Cloud is now accelerating thanks to the path being smoothed by quick wins like Teams and Zoom which are already in place…
The LAN (or a trusted zone) has underpinned so much thought about how things are architected for so long, that we’re in for a fairly seismic shift… and much much quicker than perhaps originally planned for.
Where even is the perimeter of the network now? If everyone is outside and the data is in the Cloud does it even matter??
The answers to this are complex, but we’re used to thinking one step ahead!! In reality, there isn’t a one size fits all solution to this, but we have a range of technologies that we can leverage to ensure you’re on a path to this new future strategy. Get in touch to find out how the new world is going to look…