How to Address the Top 5 Remote Work Challenges for IT

 

When “business as usual” is disrupted, organizations must address these priorities:

  • Keeping employees and customers safe while sustaining operations  
  • Enabling a remote workforce for the short and long term  
  • Ensuring the business continuity plan is ready for this or any situation 

To address the human and business impact, IT leaders are being called upon to answer key questions for the following five challenges: 

Collaboration 

The Challenge: Keeping employees engaged and productive while working from home.  

  • What are the best collaboration tools for your users and workflows? 
  • Should you enable video calling and meetings for everyone? 
  • Does your current setup support these fast-evolving needs? 

Remote Access  

The Challenge: Providing secure access to applications and data from anywhere.  

  • Do you have the capacity to enable remote work for everyone?  
  • Do your users have the right equipment to work from home?  
  • How can you set up and manage work devices remotely? 

Security 

The Challenge: Protecting users and data within a decentralized environment.   

  • Are virtual private networks (VPNs) necessary for every use case?  
  • Do your cloud-based applications need additional security controls? 
  • How do you achieve visibility and protection for all-remote users? 

Network 

 The Challenge: Ensuring your infrastructure is ready to handle increased traffic. 

  • Can your network architecture support an increase in video calling?  
  • How do you assess traffic patterns and network readiness?  
  • Is a network upgrade necessary to support remote work long-term? 

Change Management & Communication  

The Challenge: Guiding employees, customers and partners through rapid change. 

  • What are the right messages to share when and with whom?  
  • Are your leaders ready to train and manage remote teams?  
  • Do your users have the tools and skills to adapt to all-remote work?

Recommendations 

Ensuring Collaboration 

  • Begin with timely end-user adoption in mind.  
  • Select the platform that’s easiest to deploy and adopt.  
  • Educate users on new tools and best practices to drive adoption and prevent shadow IT.    
  • Test your network for collaboration readiness.  

Enabling Remote Access 

  • Use desktop and application virtualization to extend and secure the digital workspace. 
  • Ensure coverage for managed, virtual and personal devices. 
  • Develop and test a mobility plan for your specific use cases. 
  • Optimize performance for cloud or on-prem. 

Preparing Your Network 

  • Assess your current identity and access, endpoint and email security solutions for a remote work scenario.  
  • Consider VPN for business apps and alternate secure options for cloud or SaaS apps.  
  • Remember short-term solutions can impact long-term security and performance.  

Helping People Through the Change 

  • Encourage senior leaders to communicate the shift and what it means to the organization.  
  • Provide success guidelines and best practices for using collaboration tools to work from home.
  • Ensure users have adequate training on new functionality, know where to find resource materials and have easy access to the support they need.

Are You Ready?  

Preparing to pursue business-as-usual, maintain the same level of real-time, person-to-person interaction while keeping users and data safe is a significant challenge facing IT leaders today.  

If you’re looking for help navigating the complex challenges around enabling a remote workforce, register for our upcoming virtual workshop, Making Technology Decisions During Uncertain Times. You can also connect with a Softchoice expert 

Managed Services for Meraki: Demystified

Wireless internet is vital to your organization.

Cloud applications drive your day-to-day operations. Digital data steers your strategic decisions. Your users expect to access their work apps and data from any device or location.

For these reasons, you depend on an advanced network infrastructure. But what happens when “advanced” becomes “too complex to handle”?

Over time, added layers of technology create silos. Distinct networking devices and software require more specialized skill sets. Each one adds to the cost of keeping the network up and running.

Cloud-hosted wireless networking from Cisco Meraki goes a long way to simplify things.

It offers a powerful, cloud-managed solution for companies with a high priority on the cloud or hybrid IT initiatives and limited time or resources to deploy them. Its wireless mesh technology is well-suited to teams managing networks across several distributed locations.

Nonetheless, network growth, increasing performance demands, and evolving security concerns keep networking teams stretched to the limit. Even with Meraki cloud solutions in place, many can’t spare the time or resources to get the most out of the technology.

That’s why we created Keystone Managed Services for Meraki. In the article below, we explore the top three things you stand to gain from a managed services approach to your Cisco Meraki deployment.

Put Time Back on the Clock

Is your team up-to-date on every aspect of your Meraki licensing? Are they implementing hardware support tickets as fast as they could be? Are they on top of your return materials authorization (RMA) requirements?

Even the best IT teams get overwhelmed. Given the pace of change in most environments, it’s often a challenge for seasoned network professionals to sustain smooth daily operations. It’s also the everyday management tasks that pile up when higher priorities arise.

Lack of time, along with resource shortages and poor visibility into the network, make it difficult to plan and implement long-term improvements to the network.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you had that time back.

A managed services approach automates the repetitive, time-consuming operational processes associated with maintaining your Meraki deployment. Outsourced experts from Softchoice oversee the day-to-day aspects of support, including subscription management, compliance and device licensing.

We keep your network running in the background, freeing your IT resources to deliver on core objectives and innovation projects. The result? Your in-house team spends less time keeping the lights on – and more time moving the business forward.

Do Better than “Break-Fix”

Maintaining a network takes a lot of work. Much of that effort is spent reacting to problems as they arise. Between sustaining daily operations and troubleshooting issues, there’s little time to keep on top of emerging trends and threats

In fact, 91% of IT executives surveyed by IDG believed the networking profession is only becoming more challenging. Meanwhile, 70% felt the cloud adds even more difficulty.

In many cases, in-house IT personnel – and some managed services providers (MSPs) – lack the skills to move past a reactive, “break-fix” model of network support. Meanwhile, productivity lost due to outages and downtime for repairs can put a significant fiscal strain on a business.

Under a Softchoice Managed Services engagement, we focus on providing proactive mentorship to help you avoid common problems and get the most from your Meraki deployment.

Our subject matter experts (SMEs) guide you through the complex waters of licensing selection and asset management. Then, through event-style coaching, we bring your in-house skill set up to speed while keeping you abreast of the latest threats. The offering also includes support from Cisco-certified experts, which makes up the majority of our engineering team, who are available 24/7.

Move Beyond “Plug-and-Play”

Poor visibility is the biggest impediment to efficient network performance. Cloud-managed networking from Meraki provides plenty of real-time data into what’s going on network-wide. That visibility is critical for managing and securing traffic on your network.

However, the default configurations for your Meraki tools may not be best-suited to the needs of your environment. At the same time, reconfiguring tools to meet evolving requirements take up time and resources your team doesn’t have.

Our Keystone Managed Services team conducts a deep-dive assessment of your current environment, including traffic and usage metrics. From here, we help you move past “plug-and-play” configurations toward implementations optimized for your environment.

We focus on mentoring your team in all aspects of Meraki, from configuration to best practices for moves, adds and changes (MACs). Throughout the engagement, we recommend performance improvements and configuration changes based on quarterly assessments of your network.

Making Hybrid IT a Reality in 2017

Making Hybrid IT a Reality in 2017

Traditional IT – while continuing to innovate and bring new technology to the business – is not able to keep up with the rapid pace of change and innovation happening within the business. As a result, organizations are searching beyond traditional IT for new ways to increase agility, improve time to market, and more flexible consumption models that reduce the risk associated with large capital investments.

According to a recent Softchoice study of 1500 end users, 1-in-3 users have downloaded a cloud application without letting their IT department know and the majority don’t understand the risks. [Read more…]