Recent world events mean that working from home has become the new norm for many people. Businesses and employees needed to adapt to this change in work style in a rapid fashion, with solutions that help improve communication and collaboration experiencing a huge surge in adoption. Microsoft Teams, for example, reported a huge uptake of 12 million new daily users in just one week. Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions will continue to be important. However, supporting secure access to other business applications that employees rely on, and in a remote fashion, will also be important in ensuring that a more dispersed workforce can communicate effectively and work as productively and securely at home as they would in the corporate office.
Employee productivity hinges on providing them with the access they need
As businesses have gravitated more toward cloud-based applications over recent years, reliance on solutions such as VPNs that govern and authenticate secure access to work resources and applications on the corporate network has diminished somewhat. VPNs are certainly not dead but employees no longer need to use them to the same extent as they did in the past. Recent world events have, however, brought new focus to remote access. Given the large numbers now working from home, ensuring they have access to all the internal applications they need is important, but the reality for many is that some of these applications may only have been available across the corporate network and are not configured for secure remote access. Customer service applications, diagnostic tools, task management solutions, and other bespoke apps are all examples of solutions that many employees rely on in order to work productively, but they are also apps that many have never used away from the office. When these types of apps have had to be used remotely in the past, access is often granted via a VPN system. The challenge at present, however, is that the sheer number of employees suddenly needing to work from home is either too great for IT teams to set up with VPNs or the VPN is unable to handle the volume of traffic now being routed through it. A more advanced approach to managing this type of access is to provide it based on certain conditions and context. Instead of just providing blanket access to a range of different systems and resources, both internal and external users can be provided access only to the resources they need – access that can be granted based on certain conditions, including things like device and OS posture, user, location, and network type.
As the rise of mobility within businesses has complicated the way that access to internal work resources could be managed and secured, remote access capabilities built on zero-trust security models have been an area of investment and focus for unified endpoint management (UEM) providers over recent years, with the likes of Citrix, MobileIron, and VMware all offering this type of capability. However, other vendors, including Microsoft and Okta, have very reputable and advanced offerings here also. Google is now also offering remote access capabilities by way of its recently announced BeyondCorp solution – a tool it states it has been using for its own internal operations for some time.
Adam Holtby, Principal Analyst, Workspace Services