As we pass the anniversary of COVID-19, many businesses are pondering when and how workers come back to the office. Some are considering bringing employees back in shifts, while others are planning to leave it up to the employee. Other enterprises are using the model where everyone comes back for two-to-three days a week and the remainder from home. Many return-to-office strategies have been devised, and they typically share one commonality: Hybrid working will become the norm.
As the name suggests, a hybrid workplace consists of employees working in an office or scattered across remote sites, including but not limited to home offices. At the outset of the pandemic, companies went into full panic mode and connected people by any means necessary. Now that the world has settled into work from home, there’s more focus on ensuring workers can be as productive as possible regardless of location and developing a remote access strategy that can scale is key to that.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) of the past are no longer sufficient. VPNs are great for technically-savvy users who require intermittent connectivity, but the technology wasn’t designed for every employee to connect 100% of the time. VPNs might seem simple for people who use them all the time. However, many workers find VPNs intimidating, especially those remote working for the first time due to COVID-19.
Also, VPNs create a backdoor into many organizations and can create security risks. Phishing attacks that comprise workers’ home computers have been on the rise, and malware can enter an organization through a VPN tunnel. Some organizations have tackled the challenge of giving remote workers access to apps using separate wide area network (WAN) infrastructures. But this approach involves many operational complexities, which are avoidable with a software-defined (SD)-WAN deployment.
SD-WAN can link up multiple remote locations using connections from different providers and types of transport, including LTE, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), broadband Internet, and 5G where available. Most often, SD-WAN hardware is manageable with a software-based controller hosted in the cloud. Thus, network traffic is prioritized based on demand and monitored in a centralized location.
SD-WAN capabilities are being outfitted with remote access technologies to help organizations provide employees with consistent, secure, high-performance access to all of their apps. The enables workers to connect but also secures the connection, unlike legacy VPNs. Aryaka Networks recently launched its SD-WAN-based managed VPN that is delivered as-a-service in hybrid workplaces. SmartSecure Private Access allows users to move freely and securely between locations and apps without sacrificing network performance. The as-a-service aspect of the offering removes much of the complexity that plagues traditional solutions.
SmartSecure Private Access uses a point of presence (POP)-based service architecture with built-in WAN optimization. So, IT can manage many remote sites and users from Aryaka’s global service POPs. Whether users connect via POPs from an office or remote site, IT can reallocate resources like bandwidth and get predictable application performance.
Aryaka’s technology is based both on the principles of SD-WAN and secure access service edge (SASE), which combines elements of SD-WAN and network security into a single cloud-based service. Organizations can start transitioning to SASE by retiring their legacy WAN technology and moving to a cloud-first model. SASE enables home workers to have corporate-grade security without the complexity of having to deploy physical appliances.
With SmartSecure Private Access, organizations get security-as-a-service that integrates on-premises or cloud security with their existing solutions. The fully managed VPN supports all private access clients — including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android — and centralizes security event management (SEM) in those clients.
Now remote workers can connect to the same POPs as branch office workers via clients. By tying together on-prem requirements with remote workers, network and security teams can manage hybrid workplaces and enforce policies without disrupting the business workflow. Consequently, this maximizes productivity for those who work anywhere and have access to apps when they need it.