How can cloud and hybrid connectivity support business continuity during Covid19 and beyond?

26 March 2020

Current circumstances and rules surrounding Covid19 control and containment have forced companies to shift operations to remote working policies for essential business continuity. But if this has highlighted one thing across all industries, it’s that IT and telecoms infrastructure has not been set up to be able support an entire workforce to securely access company ecosystems from home. 

Remote access infrastructure is typically designed to take about 10-20% of a single company’s workforce accessing their private network at any one time. This infrastructure has simply never been designed to handle volumes like those we’re now seeing for business continuity. In a recent report polled on 18-19 March, 33% of respondents said their company lacked the technology to manage constant remote working for several months. Additionally, 41 per cent said they plan to increase IT and tech investment in the coming weeks to cope with the new remote working structure during isolation. But there are options which can support business operations in the short term without being tied to long and expensive vendor contracts in the long term. 

Before cloud technology became mainstream, applications were hosted on physical tin in the office and could only be accessed by employees while on the same office network. As remote working has become more popular in recent years, access via remote access infrastructure such as virtual private networks (VPNs) has been implemented and, to date, VPNs have been the most popular technology to facilitate this. However, with an entire workforce trying to access a VPN, or similar, which can’t handle the bandwidth, there’s no connectivity to the network and applications are completely inaccessible to users across the company. 

Many business applications are now transitioned to cloud, including Microsoft’s Office 365, the full G-Suite and communication platforms such as Slack. Unfortunately, internal IT infrastructure hasn’t matched that pace of change and most companies still rely on VPNs to allow users to access applications – even those which are run in the cloud. 

No one could have guessed that a pandemic was on its way, but the massive affect on how we operate has forced businesses to look differently at continuity, in any and all scenarios. 

The cloud brings businesses a host of options for change and scalability, and in these unprecedented times those benefits become essential to business continuity. Cloud platforms can alleviate the short term pain everyone is experiencing as well as create a foundation for future change. Yes, there’s a need to look at risk appetite and be mindful of your security needs – we’ve seen a number of cyber attacks being attempted as criminals take advantage of this unprecedented situation. But if this is for a short term fix then implementation should be approached in phases for fast deployment, rather than in the same way a 6+ months transformation project would be. The very nature of being able to do things quickly is what it’s all about right now, and what cloud comms was built for in the first place.

There’s probably a temptation to fall back on buying additional kit for data centres, to expand capacity for VPNs and other access infrastructure. However, even if a company does decide that buying more physical kit is the answer, no one is in a position where that’s possible in the short term. There’s no amount of bandwidth or kit using legacy approaches that can solve this. The technology would need to be found, procured, and with logistical limitations in the current environment it could even be difficult to even get it delivered and the data centre be accessible. Then there’s a need to get people to physically install, deploy and test the new set up during lock down rules. Businesses need a solution which can be implemented right now, remotely, without people having to be in attendance. 

By leveraging the cloud, businesses can gain benefits around flexibility and scalability, and faster deployments. A centralised and secure cloud platform will allow companies to move traffic to wherever they need it to go whilst maintaining bandwidth and security compliance. This allows your workers to keep working, keep your costs scaled down, and allows businesses to continue to operate at scale. It also protects against paying a premium for near-term business continuity in the face of a pandemic. Organisations must make use of what cloud platforms have been built for, keep it secure, and continue to function over the next few months and beyond, whilst being able to build, refine and even remove, when normality returns. Power and control therefore remains in the hands of the business.

We understand that current circumstances have forced businesses and IT departments to quickly reassess their situations, in order to enable their workforce to shift to remote working. Myself and the rest of the Cloud Gateway team are happy to offer any advice to companies looking at their options. Even if just for a peer review, get in contact or give us a call on +44 (0)203 870 2444.  

Are you looking at: 

Remote access in to your clouds even if they’re not accessible via the internet natively –  including using existing IDAM services

Expanding in to cloud or hybrid cloud to avoid buying expensive kit in your data centre, bringing you flexibility and scalability for now and in the future, should you want to scale back once this is over

If mass RAS isn’t an option, make your applications accessible securely to the internet. Secure access to your on-premise or cloud applications can be set up from anywhere, and at any time

HSCN connectivity can be deployed within hours, with no additional hardware, so your staff can securely access the network

Get access to current and future cloud services within hours, whilst preserving the backbone pan-Government PSN connectivity

We want to offer any help we can to businesses looking at near-term and also long-term continuity. Please don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re happy to offer any advice we can to help any business operate. 

This doesn’t need to be a tactical solution deployed in the short term with no long term gain. It’s an addition that can become a strategic component to be leveraged for transformation to hybrid cloud or multicloud infrastructure in the future. Most importantly, if we ever find ourselves in this situation again, businesses who have adopted cloud platforms will no longer need to react, because they’ve been proactive. 

business continuity
cloud connectivity
HSCN Connectivity
PSN connectivity
Neil Briscoe