Monitoring on the move: How enterprises can assure their digital workspaces

Sascha Giese is Head Geek at SolarWinds.

There’s been a growing expectation the IT resources and critical business applications we rely on daily are accessible at any time, on any device, from any location. But now, amid a global health crisis, the ability to facilitate a remote working culture has gone from “you really should” to “you must,” overnight.

Covid-19 will have a lasting effect on the way businesses operate likely to endure even once all the bans are lifted. The business value of attending industry events will be questioned with even greater scrutiny, and virtual meetings coupled with more flexible working could become the new norm. So how can IT support enterprises in this transition?

Providing a holistic digital workspace is crucial in offering a fully flexible end-user experience for greater mobility and productivity. The digital workspace, in principle, will bring disparate Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, web apps, video conferencing, and mobile tools into a centralised, easy-to-manage cloud platform.

But there are some key considerations both the enterprise and IT pro must factor in if their business’ digital workspace is to be successful even in the face of increased stress on IT services during the global lockdown.

A seismic shift—in operations, yes, but in working culture, too

Before addressing how enterprises and IT pros can deliver the end-user experience this shift in working will demand, it’s important to acknowledge the equally seismic cultural shift being triggered by social distancing measures.

Productivity will be impossible to maintain if employees don’t have access to easy-to-use, configurable platforms enabling them to carry out their job as they would in an office environment. Providing adequate means to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate will be essential in keeping a business operating at capacity.

Part of the challenge in reaching this goal will hinge on IT pros’ ability to start speaking the language of business. Developing a digital workspace will overcome the complexity and issues employees and IT pros faced when previously navigating siloed solutions. But IT will still be ingrained in everyday working, so being able to offer the appropriate training, management and support will mean learning to communicate in a way the rest of the business understands. Equally, if the IT pro is to secure buy-in from the enterprise, then developing a trusted and credible voice will be essential.

Quality of experience is dependent on real time visibility The digital workspace promises to aggregate currently disparate tools that enable remote, flexible working into one central cloud-based platform accessible from any device, anywhere. Central to delivering on this promise, will be ensuring the enterprise and IT pro, have full visibility of application performance. Importantly, this will mitigate degradations and deliver the much-needed end-user quality of experience—alleviating frustration while enhancing productivity.

Having the right monitoring practices and processes in place—fed by real-time actionable insight—will be imperative. There’s also a heightened reliance on collaboration tools such as Webex®, Microsoft Teams®, and Zoom®. While these SaaS solutions won’t provide much information about problems with capacity and load, a monitoring solution will help to distinguish between a platform and a connectivity problem.

That level of real-time analysis and response can only be achieved through the right monitoring tools giving the IT pro visibility of the centralised digital workspace through a “single-pane-of-glass” platform. Application access in remote work environments cannot rely on historical baselining to quickly troubleshoot problems. If this digital working shift is to be successfully managed by the enterprise, time is of the essence to navigate the new complexities of keeping services up and running.

Secure those remote users—and deliver the necessary support

Security will inevitably be a remote working concern and a digital workspace challenge. Opportunists have already reared their heads, piloting COVID-19 phishing scams and spoofing campaigns. Enterprises and IT pros need to consider three key security and support areas. First, newly remote employees will need VPN clients, updated patches, and access rights, but may not have the expertise to install and run these themselves. In this instance, IT needs to offer the appropriate support.

Second, the oversaturation of VPNs can cause performance degradation and availability issues, opening up new threat vectors if VPNs are bypassed. IT pros need the right monitoring tools to maintain VPN performance and availability to properly manage threat identification and mitigation. And finally, the increased number of remote workers can open new threat vectors of which bad actors will take advantage. Without benchmarks, spotting anomalies in this new normal will be challenging, but offering a well-monitored, coherent, and cohesive digital workspace should deliver greater regularity in IP traffic, so anomalies can more easily be identified.

Ultimately, remote workers will require greater support from IT. At times, this can overwhelm the service desk. Enterprises must ensure their IT teams are well-equipped and resourced to deal with this increased stress.

Identifying gaps for a holistic digital workspace

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, and the global workforce will inevitably be stretched and challenged. Fortunately, remote working is now an option for many of us and creating assured digital workspaces will be critical for providing business continuity. IT pros will need to work quickly to identify the gaps if they are to provide the necessary end-user experience to ensure continued productivity. Monitoring the performance and availability of those cloud-based business applications will be paramount as the face of business likely changes forever.

Photo by sporlab on Unsplash

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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