How hybrid work models are altering cloud strategies

Jonathan Nguyen-Duy is a Vice President and part of Fortinet’s global field CISO team. He has unique global government and commercial experience with a deep understanding of threats, technology, compliance and business issues. Jonathan holds a bachelor’s degree in international economics and a Master of Business Administration in IT marketing and international business from the George Washington University.

Companies around the globe had to quickly adjust to a new kind of work environment when the Covid-19 pandemic forced a massive shift to remote work. Several months later, organisations and employees around the world are still adjusting to remote and hybrid work business models. In addition to the personal and organisational adjustments that must be made, IT strategies have also been forced to make adjustments.

Adjusting to the hybrid workforce

A recent Gallup poll reported that 59% of US workers would like to continue working from home “as much as possible” after the pandemic subsides. And only 41% would return to working at the office as much as they did pre-pandemic. Some companies like Google have said employees will work remotely until next year, and others have said they’ll enact it as a permanent option.

Still, not everyone can work from home – there will always be positions that require a presence in an office or some other work site. And of course, not everyone wants to work from home if given the choice. Research from Barclays found that less than 10% of Americans actually want to work remotely all the time. The more common desire is for flexibility and the option to come into the office a few days a week.

That means a hybrid work approach is likely to continue, in which some people work remotely, and others work in a more traditional environment. As such, companies must shift their security and cloud strategies accordingly.

The cloud strategy for hybrid work

The pandemic accelerated cloud adoption but the immediacy of the pandemic meant that many companies had to move quickly, sometimes letting security take a back seat to other concerns like agility, productivity and efficiency.

The past several months have seen the acceleration of a multi-cloud implementations. In addition to using private clouds, employees working remotely are also accessing applications from public clouds and consuming services delivered from the cloud.

The traditional data centre-server, hub and spoke model has been replaced by the end-user as the centre of focus – sitting on an endpoint on the LAN edge accessing resources in multiple private and public clouds. Hybrid clouds and distributed computing will be standard for the foreseeable future.

Accelerated cloud adoption and the need for branch offices and other remote locations to access multiple clouds is exacerbating the limitations of traditional WAN solutions. Lack of centralised management, complexity, expense and cumbersome implementations are just a few reasons why so many enterprises are adopting SD-WAN for networking and secure access server edge (SASE) for cloud-based integration of networking and security.

The need to move beyond traditional hub and spoke architectures in which back-hauled traffic is bottle-necked at the corporate data centre is highlighting the emergence of hybrid hardware and software defined networks. It’s quite clear that digital infrastructure success requires an integrated network and security approach. In order to achieve business outcomes and deliver enhanced end-user experiences, security and network management must be integrated from the outset to deliver security, as well as network and application performance.

The shift to cloud based resources and emergence of more and more network edges in the LAN, WAN and cloud, has given rise to what Gartner calls SASE, an emerging offering that combines comprehensive network security functions with comprehensive WAN capabilities. Gartner believes that SASE will be foundational to enterprise networking in the next few years. SASE pairs network security functions with WAN networking strategy to support organisations’ dynamic secure access and compute needs. Accelerated multi-cloud adoption is one of the forces driving growth in SD-WAN, SD-Branch and SASE.

Increased complexity is a natural byproduct when a high percentage of an organisation’s workforce suddenly moves to remote working and accesses corporate resources across multiple clouds. Security teams should plan for extending visibility and control across the LAN, WAN and cloud edges. This requires a security platform that is broad, integrated and automated – as well as open to support multiple vendors.

The convergence of security and networking

Our notions of work as something we do rather than just a place we commute to and from, has been forever changed by the pandemic. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation trends – making some form remote work a permanent fixture in organisations of all sizes.

IT leaders must be ready for the long-term effects of the hybrid workforce and how to continue to keep their customers, networks and employees secure. Business outcomes and user experiences are becoming dependent on the standard of Zero Trust and integrated security and networking. This is becoming the foundation for security-driven networking – the convergence of multiple areas of expertise that creates the agility, security and capabilities that today’s organisations need.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

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