Skyline Working from Home

Kids, dogs and spouses everywhere – all laced with heavy doses of connectivity and hardware issues: Enterprise IT struggles, when all users move from their desks to their coffee tables.

Blog post by Peter Odgaard-Jensen, CTGlobal CEO.
March 19, 2020.

A lot of enterprises are experiencing issues, after they’ve sent everyone home to work. Not because the employees aren’t all set and ready to pull their weight, but because most enterprise-size infrastructures simply aren’t designed to support this amount of off-site activity…:

Typically, enterprise operations are geared to accommodate between five and ten percent of their workforce working from home.
So, this week, with the numbers sky-rocketing to 95-100 percent, it overwhelms the organization – it strains technological capabilities and it puts huge pressure on internal IT teams, who suddenly have to provide fixes and support to devices and users who are stressed out, far away and have to adjust to new ways of collaborating.

Most (all) organizations have designed their IT infrastructure ‘on a budget’, and relied on the on-premise all-for-one/bulk advantages of having all hardware and users in controlled groups and environments.
Their infrastructure is designed to accommodate a specified and fairly constant number of working-from-home users. This group is used to doing their jobs on the road or at home. They have their remote desktops all set up, with functioning audio and video connections, they can access what they need to do their work, and they are used to coming up with work-arounds, when there are glitches.

When that group of, say, 500 self-reliant and experienced users suddenly explodes and grows to 6,500 users — 5,500 of whom have possible never worked outside the office, aside from taking the odd phone call — and now have to get operational in a new setting, with no routines and no colleagues physically nearby to ask for help, it puts an enormous strain on the IT organization.

That’s the background for why, these days, at CTGlobal we are having a lot of conversations with customers, who are struggling to keep their users operational, to keep their security tight, and who are being asked to provide their board and management with compliance and performance documentation. The trouble they are in takes on many different forms:

(Also) Made in China: VPN concentrators
One classical problem area, when a larger than usual proportion of the workforce moves to “working elsewhere” — especially in this particular Corona crisis — are the VPN concentrators:
VPN concentrators are devices built to conduct and manage the secured connections between end-user devices and the organizations’ servers.
If your organization don’t have enough of those in place to handle the new workload, well… tough. Just: Tough.

Because the VPN Concentrators are all (not mostly, all!) built in China and have to be shipped. And that whole Chinese production and export activity was the first to take a hit from the Corona virus, which means that it will be a while before you can just send out for some more.

Dress rehearsal for that all-cloud reality
Maybe you are lucky and have all of your data and connections based in the cloud? But probably not, if you are enterprise-sized. Most likely, your reality is that you are in the progress of shifting all or some functions to cloud, and — like most organizations — yours is probably not quite there yet. Instead, you have some services and functions in the cloud, while some are still on-premises.

Whichever combination you operate with, one thing is for sure:
You are not ready for your entire workforce to be all cloud all the time, at the same time, and for absolutely everything. Your Azure services and licensing structure is not yet geared to take on the full load and responsibility of being the only vessel and the pivot for all activities, throughout the organization.

And at a time of crisis for the business, everyone is just screaming for IT to “work”, “perform”, “do its thing” – not to start moving or changing functions and processes, testing new technology, or changing work routines. There’s quite enough of change with the physical shift from office to living room, without IT-stuff messing with procedures as well, thank you very much!

Security just got bumped back
And then there’s the security problem: When all your users connect to the company infrastructure from home, you have no way of knowing what those devices are going to drag home with them through connectivity through random public and private networks (even when you have VPN connections) that you have no control over.
As Ann Johnson, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, puts it in a recent blog post on the security issues, working from home generates for enterprises:
“While employees in this new remote work situation will be thinking about how to stay in touch with colleagues and coworkers using chat applications, shared documents, and replacing planned meetings with conference calls, they may not be thinking about cyberattacks. CISOs and admins need to look urgently at new scenarios and new threat vectors as their organizations become a distributed organization overnight, with less time to make detailed plans or run pilots.”
That post is well worth a read, for tips and tricks on how to secure your IT organization from the threats posed by having all users work from home.

How are we helping?
CTGlobal’s endpoint, infrastructure, cloud and security consultants are in close contact with our customers. They are working day and night to help keep their operations operational, and identify the quick, not-too-disruptive fixes and mitigations that will work in the individual organization, based on existing IT set-ups, on the company culture and change preparedness, on business requirements, and based on the organization’s technological maturity in cloud, automation and endpoint management.

Our consultants run continuous health checks on infrastructures, pulling up data on how devices are performing individually and grouped across departments and geographies. They track if updates are installed and deployed correctly. And they monitor which security threats are putting systems at risk, and ensure that security measures are in fact effectuated in all, and particularly high-risk, environments.

One thing is for sure: This is a whole new situation, and we are learning to deal with it every day – as human beings, as colleagues, as professionals, as businesses, and as cogs in the great wheels of the interconnected and interdependent reality we operate in.

Visit our COVID-19 Enterprise IT resource page where you can sign up for more blog posts, and live and on-demand webinars

Peter Odgaard-Jensen, CEO

About Peter Odgaard:
CTGlobal CEO 

Peter is an experienced CEO, who has worked in all tiers of the IT value chain, with a wide range of disciplines, including managing distribution channels, go-to-market strategy, sales management, strategic partnerships, and IT strategy.
Follow Peter on LinkedIn and Twitter

About CTGlobal:
CTGlobal is an IT consultancy and development company focused on cloud, data center, security and enterprise client management. The corporate HQ is based in Denmark with offices in the Nordics, Baltics and the United States. The company was founded in 1999.
CTGlobal is Microsoft Gold Partner in Windows and Devices; Cloud Platform; Cloud Productivity; and Datacenter, and our experts speak and teach at leading international seminars and conferences.

CTGlobal helps enterprises maximize return on their investments in Microsoft Systems Management and cloud platform solutions, by visualizing threats to compliance, security and performance in their IT infrastructure, and prioritize tasks and resources accordingly. CTGlobal is renowned for expert solutions and recognized as leaders in the field of management technology and infrastructure visualization.
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