Thorsten Kurpjuhn, European market development manager at Zyxel examines how resellers and MSPs can support businesses and their networks for remote workers during the coronavirus restrictions.
With much of the world in various stages of lockdown and office working restrictions in place due to the impact of the coronavirus, the ways that many businesses operate have been thrown into a state of flux.
The same goes for the demand on resellers and managed service providers (MSPs) from businesses to support these changes, and how they now work to manage evolving needs remotely.
For some businesses, the transition from local to remote working has been quite seamless, as some organisations simply strengthened a digital infrastructure that already enabled home working.
However, for many other businesses, this period of time has been a step into the unknown. While they may claim to adhere to digital working practises, the pressure to not just ‘cope’ but ‘thrive’ in this new climate has inevitably resulted in teething problems.
For these organisations, the main issue revolves around networking. And it is here where resellers and MSPs need to work with businesses to convert digital practises from simply talking a good game, to truly embedding a facilitative digital infrastructure for a dispersed workforce.
Without a secure, high-performance, and quickly accessible – now remote – corporate network, how can any individual reach the same level of quality and accuracy in their work as they would in-office?
So, what are the key areas resellers and MSPs need to focus on to get their customers on track for success and maintain business-standards in a new remote world?
In this new norm, bandwidth can become a detrimental issue overnight, as different individuals’ home set-ups struggle to meet enterprise requirements.
To combat the problem, network infrastructures need to facilitate two things. Firstly, the communicative and management capability for employees to continue working as well as they would in-office. And secondly, the security and efficiency of their digital property to still meet the expectations of their customers.
Security, control and flexibility are the ultimate trilogy of considerations that companies now need to strive for to achieve a successful remote working environment. And to do so, they must begin by setting up a virtual private network (VPN).
The importance of security can never be understated, but the current situation heightens its significance, as cybercriminals are viewing it as a prime time to strike.
As ever, it can often begin with phishing emails, coercing people into downloading malware as a gateway to sensitive data. But worms, spyware, trojans and a host of additional dangers are also lurking, and all can be mitigated by providing secure network connectivity and a state-of-the-art VPN firewall.
The combination of a VPN and a firewall ensures the requisite efficiency and security required for a corporate network to flourish in the current conditions.
With users continuously connected to the company’s infrastructure, it allows them to operate as they would normally, without compromising the security of data being produced, collated or shared at any point.
A VPN creates an encryption-protected tunnel that connects each employee directly with their company’s network, thus preventing third parties from gaining unauthorised access to the data being transferred inside.
The addition of a firewall to the home office provides protection against other deadly cyberthreats such as ransomware and attacks by viruses that sneak in from the home network.
Should sensitive data be breached, the impact would now likely be felt more than ever before. It would become an unsettling addition to what is already an unnerving time for employees, who may need more time to adjust to this new way of working.
It may not seem like the opportune time to be looking into operating expenses, but it is vital for companies to provide a remote workforce with multi-layer, bundled security solutions and a safe connection to the business network.
Not only will such set-ups make employees feel more settled, but they will also feel more in control and reassured that sensitive data is kept secure, despite the disbursed sprawl of physical property.
With security no longer a concern in the back of workers’ minds, they can hopefully focus on what they do best – performing their usual tasks to optimum capabilities.
In the coming months, pressure is likely to shift in the direction of resellers and MSPs, and their cloud management systems, who will be under more scrutiny than ever before.
Not only do resellers and MSPs need to offer a robust and quality solution, but they need to do so in a way that is accessible to a broader pool of users than previously experienced.
Even the least tech-proficient individuals must be empowered to take greater control over their own network settings, remote monitoring functions and sharing capabilities.
To retain a sense of control in a situation which feels largely out of users’ hands will be pivotal. This can only be achieved if the cloud-hosted remote management solutions are refined and optimised, so that users feel confident and in charge of their workspaces rather than struggling without assistance.
Initially, empowerment begins with ensuring any devices deployed on to the network feature the capabilities for remote configuration and installation, given the distancing and lockdowns in place.
Ideally this is followed by simple and autonomous software updates where necessary. The solutions provided to each worker have to be geared up for those even with the lowest levels of tech proficiency and confidence.
Establishing control and utilising remote management tools leads seamlessly into the notion of flexibility – a concept that will not only aid businesses and their employees through this period, but could actually strengthen company processes beyond the pandemic.
Solutions that facilitate remote working are thrown into the spotlight more than ever before. The simplicity of installation, ease of use, controllability, and the way these solutions help to manage processes from different locations.
These are strands that many organisations have felt could only be optimised through face-to-face interactions and internal digital devices until now.
To realise that the same advantages could be gained remotely sheds light on a new employer-employee dynamic. To address the work-life balance of employees, who could benefit from homeworking, is a tangible positive to take from an otherwise negative situation.
There’s an old saying that you should ‘never waste a good crisis’. For many resellers and MSPs, the remote initiation, installation, deployment, management, and refinement of digital solutions to enable businesses and their employees to work from home may well prove to be more of a long-term transformation, rather than a short-term backstop.
It’s critical that resellers and MSPs work with companies to realise this early on and in turn, embrace the potentials that VPNs and cloud management-driven networking have to offer.