Many companies have found it difficult to adjust to remote work. In the face of drastic changes brought on by pandemics, natural disasters, and other challenges, untethering your workforce from the office can be a big ask. Your success relies on one crucial component: your network.
Keeping your enterprise connected – both internally and to customers – is the only way to maintain business continuity and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, traditional networking solutions were built for the office. Not only does this slow down your transition to working remotely, but also makes everyday operations anything but efficient.
The good news is, our experts have pinpointed six IT solutions that will make your company more effective at remote work, using a network that accommodates distributed business better than ever.
- Give network staff convenient access with advanced out-of-band
Out-of-band (OOB) management is not a new technology. But taking advantage of this tool has traditionally proven cumbersome and inefficient.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to treat their OOB network as an afterthought, something they might use once in a while when an update or fix is needed. Phone lines, modems, and dedicated OOB devices make management a chore, even for tasks like resetting passwords, rebooting devices, and other routine work.
Remote access via DSL or dial-up is too slow, which takes time, puts your security at risk, and forces you to juggle delicate admin protocols. Putting staff on site is another option, but also eats up time and binds specialized IT personnel to specific locations.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of advanced out-of-band, which lets you perform network management tasks from anywhere.
An advanced out-of-band solution gives you a secure management path that’s completely separate from all other networks. Not only do you stay protected from unwanted traffic and attacks, but you can also get blazing fast access to your management network via broadband connection.
This means that for issues large and small, you can slash response times and put your best people on the job – even if they’re across the globe. And if your main connection suffers an outage, you can remote-in to your out-of-band network via cellular failover backup.
Advanced out-of-band makes network management convenient and efficient.
- Fully optimize using a vendor-neutral system
Typical networking solutions cause vendor lock-in. This is when you’re limited to choosing specific hardware and software products that are compatible only with each other. Vendor lock-in forces you to make sacrifices during implementation, so you end up with a solution that doesn’t entirely satisfy your requirements.
Having a network that isn’t optimized also leads to management headaches. Your support staff can easily become fatigued, as they must juggle an array of interfaces, UIs, and admin protocols. Your disjointed network doesn’t deploy or scale easily, which holds back your distributed workforce.
But with a vendor-neutral management platform, you can boost efficiency even on your existing network.
A vendor-neutral system means you don’t have to worry about over-buying or under-serving, and can instead connect the physical and virtual assets of your choice. You can optimize your network with SD-WAN, firewall, routing, and other solutions that perfectly suit your needs.
Some providers even offer a unified management tool that consolidates control of your network solutions, regardless of which vendors they’re from. Your IT staff no longer need to jump from one unique UI to another, because everything can be controlled under a simple management umbrella. You can update firmware, change traffic priorities, monitor devices, and more from one clean interface.
With a vendor-neutral system in place, you can turn your network into a powerful asset that supports your global enterprise.
- Protect business from costly downtime thanks to cellular failover
If one of your critical locations suddenly goes offline, your business could lose up to thousands of dollars per hour. Restoring your main connection can take hours or days, while your employee and customer interactions come to a standstill. Business stops, and your reputation plummets alongside customer satisfaction.
However, cellular failover is a simple solution that can prevent all of this, so you can leave downtime in the past. When your main connection drops, your failover-equipped network automatically switches to 3G, 4G, or even 5G cellular to give employees and customers a seamless experience.
Capable cellular solutions give you freedom of choice, allowing you to determine which wireless carriers you use, as well as letting you take advantage of multiple backups. It’s like an insurance policy for your connectivity, with most cellular providers sporting over 99% reliability.
When you need to deploy a new location, cellular failover can even help you bring critical systems online – before your main connection is established. It’s a wireless solution that lets you scale on demand and helps you increase your business’ agility.
- Keep staff connected using Secure Access Service Edge
Accommodating remote work usually involves a slow, stringent process. You need to purchase and configure laptops and other equipment, create users and groups, and adjust other hardware- and network-specific settings. All of this just to allow staff to work away from the office.
On top of this, all traffic likely gets routed through your main enterprise firewall. This degrades performance and speed for every user, and can bring business operations to a grinding halt.
But Secure Access Service Edge, or SASE, is a transformative technology that does away with the traditional hassles of setting up for remote work, and instead puts networking and security into the cloud. This allows safe connectivity to be delivered close to users no matter where they are. And because SASE uses an identity-driven model, your employees don’t have to rely on special hardware. They can access your network using their smartphone, tablet, desktop, or other device.
SASE gives your employees flexible network access, and also frees your main enterprise connection for more business-critical traffic. You can deploy your SASE solution and get a network that keeps your staff connected.
- Streamline with virtualization
You’re probably used to having dedicated, single-purpose devices for your network functions. Even if these deliver all the capabilities you need, you’ll inevitably find it difficult to scale and manage due to large stacks of hardware & software solutions.
But you can significantly reduce your physical stack and your management efforts by using virtualization.
With the right devices, you can consolidate and virtualize your network functions to streamline every part of infrastructure management.
And the more guest operating systems you can run, the better. With virtualization, you can host custom or third-party applications, so instead of deploying separate appliances for SD-WAN, routing, failover, and firewall functions, you can use fewer devices capable of handling it all. This means smaller stacks, tighter solution integrations, and easier management of network functions.
- Use automation to take work off your hands
You spend a lot of time and money just to keep your network running. Routine tasks and configuration management are some of your biggest challenges, simply because they pull critical resources away from more urgent business needs. Moreover, you’re left vulnerable to human error that can cause interruptions and downtime.
This is where automation comes into play, which helps by doing some (or all) of the work for you.
For everything from routine fixes, to provisioning, to configuration updates and rollbacks, automation helps you achieve autonomous networking. Use your favorite tools like Ansible, Chef, and Python to create workflows that carry out themselves, and set up zero touch provisioning for push-button deployments. Automation is the only solution that helps you replicate and scale with consistency, so you can avoid costly errors while keeping specialized staff focused on the core of your business.
Take advantage of automation capabilities for more efficient and productive enterprise networking.
Remote work can be difficult to accommodate, especially when your business is distributed across the globe. But you can help your entire organization operate more effectively through better networking. Our newest partner, California-based ZPE Systems, is leading the remote-work initiative with comprehensive offerings for these six IT solutions. To explore our latest partnership and take advantage of these solutions, contact Atom Creek today.