Remote Work Customer Advisory

March 16th, 2020 by admin

Business man working remotely from his home office wearing a headset and working on his laptop

Technology has advanced such that embracing remote work is no longer challenging. It requires different considerations for collaboration and communication, but ultimately it is not a lower quality work experience. This article considers the premise of moving a large portion of your employees to remote workers.

Changes in technology like high-speed internet, virtual meeting, group collaboration tools, and secure cloud services make remote work easier and employees more effective. There are two schools of thought for supporting remote workers, extending the company’s network and moving the company’s infrastructure and services to the cloud.

In the first scenario, extending the company network, remote workers are able to access company resources through use of highly secured public connections. However, IT teams built the infrastructure on the premise telecommuting was reserved for a small percentage of the organization a couple times a week. The infrastructure was not sized for ALL employees working remotely 8x5. Your IT team may wish to consider the following to prepare for the whole business working remotely:

  • Sufficient laptops/desktops
  • If allowing the use of home computers check with security team on Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, tutorials, BYOD software
  • VPN Licenses and Server Capacity
  • Zero Trust Frameworks
  • Are there enough multi-factor authenticators and licenses?
  • For on-prem hosted resources, does your Internet connectivity at the office have enough capacity and availability?
  • How will customers contact you by phone – Call forwarding, Software phones?
  • Customer service call routing
  • Video Conferencing
  • Deployment of a virtual desktop infrastructure solution.
  • Do you have a current IT roadmap for securely moving on-premises services to cloud services?

The other school of thought is a serverless or cloud-based business. This is done using a variety of architectures ranging from basic migrations, to serverless architectures, to Software as a Service (SaaS) models. With a cloud-based business your only dependency is a reliable network connection. Moving your business to the cloud is a long-term project. However, when completed, you can perform your business tasks at work, at home, or even your local coffee shop. In addition, there are business continuity and disaster recovery benefits to being cloud-based. A fully cloud-based business resumption plan becomes “work from anywhere”.

So where do you start when considering moving our business to the cloud? You’re going to need a roadmap; if you don’t know where you are going you will never get there. A roadmap takes into consideration application criticality, ease of migration, age of existing infrastructure and security posture.

Most businesses start with common office applications – eMail, calendaring, filesharing and collaboration tools. Cloud-based office tools have been around for over a decade. Office application migrations to the cloud are low-risk, high-criticality to the business. If you haven’t done this at your company, what’s holding you back? A migration from on-premise office applications to the cloud is considered by many to be a simple and quick first step in moving to the cloud.

Business telephone and conference systems are evolving and moving to the cloud. Legacy PBX hardware, sitting in a closet or janitor room, is being replaced by cloud-based virtual PBX and Voice over IP. With a reasonable internet connection several layers of vendors and technology have been removed. This makes phone and video conferencing another quick-win candidate for migrating to the cloud.

You will find that there are similar challenges IT faces with on-premise technology.

  • Security – as with on-premise hardware and systems you will want to employ multi-factor authentication and password policies.
  • Capacity planning – The cloud makes it easy to flex to more storage, more servers, more bandwidth. Cloud providers can set limits, alerts, and telemetry on capacity and utilization.
  • License management – while still needed it is generally a simpler cost per user with a portal to manage them.

After these commercial products have been moved to the cloud, what’s next? This is when IT transformation happens. Rethink how IT is seen by the business. Focus your IT on the value it can add to the business, not on maintaining infrastructure and applications which add little business value. Therefore, take a look at your corporate, back-office operations applications.

Corporate applications such as ERP, HR, CRM & Supply Chain vendors already offer cloud-based solutions. For many companies it is a financial decision. Before investing in new hardware for your on-premise corporate applications perform a total cost of ownership exercise, and weigh that against the benefits of a cloud-based solution. Don’t just look at an annual cost for each solution, a comparison should include (but not limited to):

On-Premise

  • Amortized Hardware replacement/refresh
  • Hardware & Software maintenance
  • Infrastructure Cost (racks, PDU’s, etc.)
  • Facilities/Data Center (Power, Cooling, Rent)
  • Disaster Recovery costs
  • Data Center network
  • Employee costs to maintain infrastructure

Cloud

  • Amortized cost to migrate to cloud
  • Annual subscription cost
  • Data integration costs
  • Amortized cost to migrate away

Moving custom-coded software to the cloud is dependent on many factors. Here are common factors to consider - application purpose, developer skills, software architecture, interfaces, and integrations to other applications. Are your home-grown applications monoliths or microservices? Do you use containerization? Do you have a DevOps practice and if so, what is its maturity level? Are you truly continuous with your CI/CD pipelines? How many of your applications need to speak to one another? Do you have a cloud governance strategy in place?

While all of this (above) may seem daunting, we have experienced consultants who can help to generate easy to follow roadmaps to migrate your on-prem environment into highly agile and scalable cloud-based environments regardless of your companies size or complexity.

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