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The light at the end of the tunnel: Business resilience post COVID-19

The light at the end of the tunnel: Business resilience post COVID-19

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Working from home has resulted in cybersecurity challenges. Johan Pellicaan, Vice President and Managing Director at Scale Computing EMEA, explains what companies can do to face these challenges.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly acted as a monumental turning point for organisations globally. Pressured to respond at speed to government-imposed lockdowns, businesses rushed to deploy remote working models in a bid to maintain customer-facing services while keeping employees safe. And as UK lockdown restrictions begin to ease, companies are using the advantage of hindsight to take lessons from the challenge of initiating digital options for remote workers at scale to reassess their current work from home policies.

The priorities for the future are clear for many. In an uncertain world where health crises and other disruptive events will affect and shape how we work, a revamp of IT systems to ensure the distributed workforce can work securely and effectively – while critical enterprise systems remain both protected and highly available – is invaluable.

Meeting cybersecurity challenges

There has been a rapid uptick in ransomware attacks among businesses, governments, research establishments, healthcare agencies and schools, as cybercriminals were quick to take advantage of the recent pandemic. According to Reuters, ransomware attacks jumped by 148% in March as online threat actors targeted vulnerable remote users.

Utilising traditional VPN connections to enable remote workers opened up enterprise networks to cyberattacks that entered through employee home networks, which many organisations discovered to their detriment. To eliminate this risk, IT leaders will need to deploy active protection tools across the entire extended network and initiate advanced built-in backup, Disaster Recovery and cloud storage to enable fast and granular object-level recovery in the event of an attack. However, cybersecurity issues were not the only challenge that confronted IT managers tasked with deploying remote working models at speed.

Enabling work from home fast

For a large majority of businesses, it was a challenge to equip their home workers with the right kit to work remotely. With devices suddenly in short supply on the open market, they were faced with having to ask employees to use their own personal devices. This meant that enterprise infrastructures had to be configured at speed to enable VPN access for users – a mammoth task for already overstretched IT teams and a complex approach that required near constant support for users as they struggled to connect with enterprise systems.

That said, organisations that had previously deployed a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution were able to quickly initiate virtual workspaces at scale – serving these up to workers anywhere and on any device. This made it possible to extend the remote capabilities of the workforce in a predictable and easy to manage way, without compromising enterprise security.

VDI has become a highly practical option due to the recent emergence of Edge computing in combination with hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). For IT teams that need to be confident they can enable a large number of users to work remotely at the drop of a hat, the solution is ideal. As many organisations discovered, these solutions make it possible to set up a remote user in under an hour.

Simplifying service provisioning with HCI and Edge

IT teams are able to quickly add new nodes as the remote workforce swells by rolling out an HCI and Edge-powered VDI solution and by rolling these back again once demand drops. Designed to be managed from a central interface, IT staff can manage and scale everything – compute, storage, networking – as required from a central console. Alongside making it easy to manage backups for each individual user, the addition of Edge computing systems to VDI solutions also gives IT teams powerful automated Disaster Recovery capabilities such as replication, file-level recovery and snapshot scheduling, which is absolutely vital in a robust business resilience strategy.

Finally, Edge computing platforms eliminate the latency and bottleneck performance issues previously associated with VDI technologies. IT teams can more easily maintain and manage growing desktop workloads, all while assuring the outstanding desktop experience that users expect.

Securing the Edge

Maintaining the security stance of the extended enterprise also becomes easier for IT teams using today’s modern VDI solutions. Using multifactor authentication to give users access to their email, files and applications, IT teams can remotely monitor user profiles, log users out and receive automated alerts on potentially suspicious activities. Furthermore, sensitive data always stays within the corporate network and is never exposed to employees’ private networks through a VPN connection.

Similarly, BYOD strategies that eliminate any need to deploy IT to home-based employees become a risk-free option as users can securely connect to their personalised desktop using any device they choose.

Reassessing the future of business resilience

There are a whole host of considerations for businesses to address when it comes to protecting employees and assets should disaster strike. Maintaining business resilience while accelerating Digital Transformation has jumped to the top of many organisations’ agendas following recent experiences, and a large majority are completely re-evaluating current systems and plans in order to ensure they are best prepared for an ever-evolving threat landscape. Part of this strategy must include a watertight plan for mobilising work from home with immediate effect. Now, businesses must ensure they have platforms in place that can be relied on to deliver this for the foreseeable future.

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