Adopting New Cloud Strategies for Hybrid Work Models

By Jonathan Nguyen-Duy | December 23, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, companies worldwide have been forced to shift large portions of their employees to remote work. And while remote and hybrid business models have become the new normal, organizations and employees alike are still adjusting to these environments. In addition to the organizational and personal changes that must be made to adapt successfully, IT strategies have also had to adjust.

Adapting to the Hybrid Workforce

In a recent poll conducted by Gallup, it was reported that 59% of US workers would like to continue to work remotely “as much as possible” even after the pandemic subsides; this means that only 41% of employees would like to work in their offices as much as they did pre-pandemic. With this in mind, it is not surprising that while some companies have said their employees will continue to work from home until next year, others will enact this as a permanent option.

At the same time, however, not everybody has a job that allows them to work from home. Furthermore, not everybody wants to work from home even if they are given a choice –research from Barclays found that less than 10% of Americans have a desire to work remotely all the time. Considering the fact that most want the option of going into the office even a few days a week, it is likely that a hybrid work approach will continue. In this scenario, some employees will work remotely while others work in a more traditional office environment. Because of this, CISOs must plan to shift their security and cloud strategies accordingly in the coming year. 

Leveraging the Cloud in New Ways

As companies accelerated their cloud adoption strategies for contactless commerce and remote work, unfortunately security sometimes took a back seat to factors like agility, productivity, and efficiency. On top of this, companies also began to embrace a multi-cloud approach, leveraging both private and public cloud models. In turn, the traditional hub and spoke model of the data center has been replaced by the end-user as the center of focus, sitting on an endpoint on the LAN edge accessing resources in multiple public and private clouds. With remote work expected to continue as the norm for the foreseeable future, it is likely that hybrid cloud and distributed computing will continue to be the standard, as well. All of these factors have further exacerbated the cloud security challenges facing CISOs, and will require careful planning to ensure 

But while the ability for remote locations to access multiple clouds offers several benefits, this plus accelerated cloud adoption is exacerbating the limitations of traditional WAN solutions. Ultimately, this need to move past the traditional hub and spoke model in which backhauled traffic is bottlenecked at the corporate data center has helped lay the path for software-defined networks and hybrid hardware. To achieve business outcomes and deliver enhanced end-user experiences, CISOs should consider ways to consolidate products to reduce complexity while improving performance lowering costs. A Secure SD-WAN solution not only offers advanced networking and security capabilities in a single device, but can also address challenges around complexity, cost and a lack of centralized management. As multi-cloud adoption continues to accelerate, the need for optimized WAN performance will drive adoption of SD-WAN and SD-Branch solutions. 

As more of an organization’s workforce accesses corporate resources across multiple clouds, complexity only increases. And with more employees working from home (for some, on a permanent basis), CISOs must ensure that their security teams are planning accordingly by extending visibility and control across the WAN, LAN, and cloud edges. This requires a security platform that is not only broad, integrated, and automated but can also support multiple vendors.   

Security and Networking Must Work Together

The concept of how we work has forever been altered by the pandemic, especially for those organizations that will continue to offer remote work as a permanent option. Because of this, CISOs must be ready for the long-term effects of the hybrid workforce and understand how to keep their networks, customers, and employees secure. Business outcomes and user experiences are becoming reliant on the standard of Zero-Trust and the convergence of security and networking. As such, this is becoming the foundation of security-driven networking, a concept centered on creating the high performance and advanced security required by organizations of all sizes, across industries. 

This is a summary of an article written for Cloud Tech by Jonathan Nguyen-Duy, Vice President, Global Field CISO Team at Fortinet. The entire article can be accessed here.