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  • Writer's pictureDoug Ennis

Converting short-term WFH into long-term IT strategy

As we’ve all scrapped 2020’s plans, those with previous hesitations on WFH and BYOD strategies have scrapped those hesitations and are finally embracing the cloud. Whether forced or reluctant to embrace this future, the cat is out of the bag now and is here to stay. Instead of outright scrapping ideas, we should heavily revise our IT strategies in this new world we exist in today. The key areas to revise or rethink are changing security focus, collaboration of business information, connection to legacy and internal applications, and visibility of environment.

Has security previously been heavily focused on Firewalls and Endpoints? If so, you might be missing a piece of the puzzle in these days. The core of the network has shifted, and our visibility of Endpoints is potentially reduced depending on your environment. What if the authentication of users and computers are based on connecting to Windows Active Directory? Your WFH users have been operating in a “cached” mode for months, with very limited controls and visibility. What to do? First, rethink your security posture to think of users more than devices. Consider integrating your security tools with the cloud platforms and SaaS tools leveraged by your organization. Review the security configuration of new tools and technologies that have been rapidly adopted recently. Finally, embrace 2FA or Two factor authentication, as this is one of the best ways to improve your security posture.

How has your organization exchanged and collaborated on documents during the past couple of months? OBC has found that organizations that have traditionally collaborated with a Windows File Share have either struggled with VPN based access back to the share or have rapidly adopted a new file sharing tool. OBC’s recommendation is that any new tools; Dropbox, OneDrive, Teams, Box, etc. be reviewed for authentication, security capabilities, and current configuration. This is also a great time to audit file permissions, inheritance, and user access. Several organizations haven’t migrated to Enterprise Sync and Share or Cloud File sharing technologies or have only done so out of necessity. This is the time to consider how your organization will collaborate moving forward in a secure and controlled manner.

How has your organization accessed legacy or internal applications during the past couple of months? If you have local network access these days, you must be very essential indeed, and an outlier in your organization. Has there been a bottleneck created due to WFH? If so, you might want to rethink VDI or Virtual Desktops. The VDI train has been rolling for several years now. However, with the impact of COVID, WFH, and new technologies (WVD) by Microsoft, VDI is starting to gain momentum. Microsoft WVD is a shared Windows 10 environment that is secured, scalable, and fairly cost effective. Depending on configuration and use, the cost is $10 /per user per month. $600 over a 5-year period might not seem cost effective, but when tied to BYOD policy or lightweight endpoints (thin-terminals or Chromebooks) it becomes a far more secure, manageable, and cost-effective option. For organizations that are considering BYOD or been forced to adopt BYOD during COVID, WVD or VDI have been desirable options to provide applications, data, and access in a secured manner.

Do you have the same visibility of your users and environment now as you did a few months prior? OBC’s has found that 50% of organizations’ workloads/servers are used for internal operations, not serving up applications and data. What OBC has also found in the past few months is that many of these internal operation workloads are losing functionality as users have migrated away from the core. As we pivot our IT strategies now, we need to re-evaluate these tools and platforms to manage this newly distributed network. We need to change from being “busy solving the symptoms, and not solving the problems” to having the visibility and resources to identify problems and solve them. Our recommendation is to research Cloud-based/SaaS based tools that can scale and monitor your whole ecosystem.

One final tip, Don't be scared! It's a brave new world, for sure, yet one of great possibilities. It's essential we don't write our new IT strategy with the same old pen.

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