The new network: Refreshing connectivity strategies for a post-Covid world
Understanding your data and analytics will be crucial to designing the right connectivity strategy moving forward.
So far in our Post Covid Reality series, we have highlighted some of the key issues involved in equipping end users to deliver in a post-pandemic environment. Devices, technologies, and security all contribute to the capability portfolio. But none of these can be properly addressed without fit-for-purpose connectivity. Here, the strategy may need to be significantly rethought to ensure that the Covid response does not impact negatively on future efficiencies. So, let’s turn to the issue in hand and examine:
- The complexities of moving to Cloud-first models with legacy systems in the mix.
- The importance of scaling connectivity for office, home, and hybrid working.
- How architecture will inform the future location strategy, revisiting and updating connectivity patterns as needed.
A recent McKinsey report, produced in May 2020, highlighted the need to reimagine business models post-Covid . As we move into Q3, many organisations are reflecting on what they have achieved against all odds, and how successes can be maximised.
Even ten years ago, before the 4G/5G/fibre optic explosion took hold, this would have been a different story. Yet here we are: connected, working, and retaining (or even increasing) productivity despite the challenges of adapting to a new working environment.
The sophistication of today’s high-speed networks has underpinned the most significant example of crisis response that the business world has seen – certainly in our lifetimes. In fact, the groundwork was laid long ago. It’s fair to say that most CIOs have seen Cloud-first as part of their strategy for some years now. That has set the scene for as a Service providers to rapidly advance the new interfaces and tools we have embraced during the pandemic. But, for those grappling with the complexities of marrying a Cloud-first agenda with legacy systems, the puzzle still lacks all the pieces. As we discussed in our previous article on endpoint security, Covid has forced a disaster recovery mandate to “just get it done”. In response, IT has deferred heavy governance and strategic issues to focus entirely on delivery. At this stage, businesses need to re-examine connectivity and infrastructure to ensure that the right levels of governance, control and optimisation are applied. If not, the penalty will be a heavy impact on operational efficiencies as they end up stuck with cumbersome cost per gig or cost per vCPU models.
Scaling connectivity capabilities to serve the new workforce
For many businesses, the reality is that connectivity is currently a hybrid, not just a Cloud-driven affair. The hierarchy typically prioritises the Cloud moving forward, whilst recognising the need to keep essential legacy systems running. SaaS solutions have certainly smoothed the path during the pandemic. But just because an application is not a Cloud service, does not mean end users have been left unconnected, thanks to VPN capabilities. The real question now is around scalability. The move from office LAN access to distributed remote locations means that, left unchecked, the throughput cost of rolling out VPN tunnels to vast numbers of users could make for a crippling overhead.
However, it is unrealistic to expect that we will suddenly eliminate all legacies and transform overnight. Pandemic or not, a system that was crucial a year ago will likely remain so today. What we do have here is an opportunity to revisit location and real estate infrastructure as part of the strategy moving forwards. Advances in areas like fog and edge computing are offering more flexibility when it comes to serving remote and office workers. That reinforces the validity of hybrid models, where end user resources can be deployed in the way that is most productive, cost effective and beneficial for the business and its customers.
Re-strategising the network for tomorrow’s world
Traditional connectivity considerations (on-premise infrastructure, telephony and VoIP, LAN investment, wireless capabilities, access to endpoints, service management, and so on) have not ground to a halt. Rather, the focus is shifting. The key question now is not, ‘what office capabilities do I need in which locations?’. Instead, the IT suite should work with the executive to ask, ‘how do I enable my end users, whenever, wherever and however they are working?’ And we are coming at that question from a global, rather than localised, perspective. That will profoundly influence business planning from BaU through to crisis resilience. Even companies heavily reliant on telephony are coming into this mix. Now that Zoom, Teams and the like have stepped up, we can expect that Cloud connectivity will be regarded as far more dependable, driving new potential to finally tackle those legacy issues. And, even if those platforms do commoditise services, they may still offer a comparatively cost-efficient proposition, enabling companies to expand their always-on offering whilst streamlining costs.
Understanding your data and analytics will be crucial to designing the right connectivity strategy moving forward. How and where are staff operating? Where are we showing efficiencies and why? What KPIs are being met, and where does slack need to be addressed? What will our customers expect moving forwards? How will remote working change the face of our location strategy, and what will the IT architecture blueprint look like to roll that out? The answers will be different for every business. Seize the chance now to revisit these questions. They will lay the groundwork for a future connectivity strategy that can facilitate the agile, lean, cost-effective working that businesses need to recover – and customers need to satisfy their evolving demands.
Find out more:
Read our article series, starting with IT’s role in driving distributed working portfolio.
Get inspired with our industry insights and case studies.
Explore Mason Advisory’s approach to real-world Enterprise Architecture.