Enterprises contemplating the ability to welcome their employees back to the office are arriving at an unexpected conclusion: many are finding that the benefits of remote teams may make it advantageous to bring teams back in shifts or leave work location choices up to individual employees. Some enterprises are inviting employees to work two or three days from home. Across all of the hybrid-work scenarios, enterprises are investing in remote-access technologies.
A hybrid-work environment describes any in which employees are working at an office in combination with a home office or scattered at remote sites. After an initial race to provide connectivity to remote workers in a newly-remote reality, IT teams are now thinking more broadly about remote-access strategies that are scalable and cost effective.
The Limits of VPNs
Traditionally, enterprises have utilized virtual private networks (VPNs) to equip remote workers. They offer support in situations where the user requires intermittent connectivity, but it’s not ideal for workers that need to connect all day, every day. In addition, they can be a bit intimidating for workers who are not tech savvy.
There are some risks associated with VPNs. They create the potential for backdoor access, such as through phishing attacks or malware that enters through a VPN tunnel.
Some enterprises have attempted to solve these challenges by offering remote workers access through a separate wide area network (WAN) infrastructure, but this can introduce new complexities.
SD-WAN, King of Remote-Access Technologies
This may be giving too much credit, but to workers relying heavily on collaboration tools like video conferencing, access to reliable and high-quality connectivity through software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) equips them for improved productivity.
SD-WAN uses connections from a range of providers and transport types, including multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), LTE, broadband internet, and 5G where available. Network teams manage the cloud-based virtualized overlay through a centralized dashboard, where they have granular visibility of network activity and threats.
SD-WAN equips enterprises with the ability to offer secure, high-performance, and consistent connectivity to remote employees in a hybrid-work setting, so every end user has the same experience, no matter where they are located.
The technology is also scalable, making it easy for enterprise IT to add locations and users, and many of the best options have native security features as part of a broader secure access service edge (SASE) approach to protecting systems and data. SD-WAN also offers traffic segmentation and prioritization, allowing network teams to set business policy that prioritizes critical transmissions like those used for video conferencing or for a voice over internet protocol- (VoIP) based phone system over a non-critical transmission like email, which does not require real-time connectivity on a high-performance pathway.
The cloud technologies that enterprises are investing in as part of a remote-work technologies strategy are bandwidth-hungry, but SD-WAN is able to allocate bandwidth in a way that supports performance requirements and reduces costs through traffic prioritization.
For more information about remote-work technologies like SD-WAN and how their features may benefit your hybrid work environment, contact us at eXemplify. We can assist you in identifying your priorities for equipping remote teams and prioritizing the right technology investments to maximize productivity and reduce costs.