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On-Premise Network Changes Needed for Remote Work

Revamping your network for a predominantly remote workforce requires a lot of forethought — at least, more than we may have previously thought. Throughout the last few years, as the need to cater to remote workers grew exponentially, many companies are having to make quick changes to compensate for the newfound strain being placed on their data centers.

For smaller companies, the changes may be more minute — ask the ISP for more capacity, disable WIFI if no one is on-site, prepare for more video chat than most humans should possibly be doing.

Jokes aside, the changes are easy for some and more difficult for others. A humble office of 6 graphic designers may handle the transition reasonably well; an office of 500 finance employees all going remote at once? This is a tougher cookie, indeed.

What Does My Business Need for Remote Work?

To begin supporting your remote workforce, we have to think logically about what we’ll actually need to help minimize costs. That’s not to say that this is going to be cheap, but as with any business, if there’s a few pennies to be saved, we should. Likewise, we also don’t want to skimp out on anything that we may truly need for our team’s success. In fact, studies have shown that your employees are more productive at home — this is something that more and more companies are going to lean into, especially with the chaos in commercial real estate.

Take An Inventory

Gartner recommends figuring out what devices our team(s) will be using and who owns them. It’s easier to control company-owned assets than employee-owned, mainly because of the restrictions we’re able to place on our corporate-deployed machines. It also helps that specs for these machines can be chosen to adequately perform any tasks an employee may have for the position. If we need to order more devices, we need to procure them sooner rather than later to prevent costly downtime.

Check Your Network

Next, we should check out what can be used on-premise with existing hardware and what may need to be contracted out to a third-party vendor. For example, how will employees access files that are stored on a networked drive that may not be able to handle multiple simultaneous data pulls?

A VPN to the home office’s network may be sufficient for on-premise data needs, but if we’re possibly moving to a cloud solution, a cloud security broker (CASB) may be the better choice. CASBs are also the better choice when it comes to enforcing policy since they can centralize security measures that can then be unilaterally applied to any device connecting in the cloud, regardless of device type. VPNs, on the other hand, could be a good choice for smaller employee counts, especially if the location will still have active employees on-site.

Reality Check

So, we’ve gotten all of our ducks in a row. We know what equipment we have and what our data center, regardless of size, can handle. The next question is: Will it work best for our needs?

The move to a remote workforce can be tedious, and realistically, it genuinely may not be feasible to invest in the on-premise-only route. Cloud computing offers greater accessibility, scales elastically, and won’t be hindered by things like inadequate cooling or faulty hard drives. It also makes it easier for IT teams since they can concentrate on other pressing needs without being bogged down by on-site server maintenance.

Cost is another huge factor and perhaps the most prohibitive. If you’re going to need to add several server racks to your business, it could cost more money than it’s worth. Enterprise-grade server equipment can quickly make your eye water with prices, especially with the current chip shortage affecting supply chains globally. As we mentioned earlier, servers can fail if they aren’t receiving adequate airflow. Thus, air conditioning and proper ventilation for your server room is another concern since server racks can produce a lot of heat. There’s also the issue of space — server racks aren’t typically small. And lastly, even if you managed to successfully build your own on-premise data center, your connection to that server is only as good as your local ISP can provide. Some businesses, especially ones in more rural areas, may not be able to accommodate an always-on setup.

The Choice Is Yours

In the end, deciding whether to solely bolster your on-premise servers or go full-on with cloud computing depends on your future needs. Some companies also opt for a hybrid approach, storing less critical data on-site for in-person employee access and utilizing cloud services to handle things like video meetings and disaster recovery. No matter which path you take, remember that if you need a helping hand, we’re always here for you.

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