The three components needed to secure the distributed organization

Remote working is here to stay. Not everyone that can work outside the office will do so full time. However, a combination of long-term trends, the pandemic and shifting employee attitudes means that offsite working is a significant part of the future for many of us. The EU estimates that in Europe, approximately two out of five roles can be performed remotely, with similar figures in the United States. Many workers will expect it as part of a flexible employment package.

While the benefits for both employers and employees are clear, delivering remote work effectively requires a secure, reliable, flexible and high-performing infrastructure.

This is not straightforward. Many businesses put temporary solutions to scale capabilities in response to the pandemic. Now they own a complex mix of on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure to ensure the accessibility, performance and employee experience of their enterprise applications.

This is not sustainable or scalable for supporting a permanently hybrid workforce. The IT teams tasked with enabling it are caught between business and IT pressures. They must deliver outstanding user experiences with constrained budgets while trying to deploy and manage various fast-changing technologies. They’re trying to do all this while working out what skills they’ll need and acquiring them when every other business is looking for the same talent.

It is complex, yet it is a challenge that must be overcome for enterprises to ensure their workforces have the connectivity to do their jobs effectively without compromising security.

Like any seemingly insurmountable problem, it is worth breaking down the issue. First, identify what the ideal looks like and what these under-pressure IT teams should strive for.

Three steps to distributed connectivity

Three components must work together to deliver the protection and performance enterprises need: future-proofed, best-of-breed connectivity, secure access to apps using this connectivity, and digital management services to orchestrate agility, availability and performance.

Firstly, a future-proofed connectivity solution gives businesses the flexibility and cost-effectiveness they need, irrespective of where their employees operate. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) act as an intelligent and configurable overlay. Users, applications and data can all be connected in a resilient and secure way using a broad range of connectivity providers and technologies, including 5G, MPLS direct Internet and satellite.

This connectivity forms the bedrock of the change in security posture enterprises need to go through.

This brings us to the second of our three components – secure access – delivered through a secure access service edge (SASE).

SASE is a cloud-based approach to protecting users, devices, apps and data wherever they are. Less a product and more a mindset, SASE looks at identity, real-time context, specific policies and the enterprise’s risk assessment to determine how the business should respond. It gives IT teams flexibility, cost savings and reduced complexity by cutting down the variety of disparate security products most organizations currently deploy. More importantly, it brings together network and security: no more silos and no more vendors working separately with the enterprise left to bridge the gap. It’s a single view of the network users rely on and the defenses required to keep them safe.

Having these first two technology components is necessary, but you will fail if you don’t have the final of our three elements in place: the digital management of this multi-provider ecosystem.

Having the visibility and ability to take action is vital to managing complexity, improving operational efficiency and improving the performance of the multiple providers in the ecosystem.

These tools must be continuously tuned and evolving to maintain high-performance levels. Our experience shows that this requires combining skills in data science, technology and operations into a single “reliability engineering” function. They need to adopt a structured, data-driven improvement method that analyzes incidents affecting the business and can eliminate, automate or mitigate these issues progressively and in a prioritized way.

Once this visibility is established, businesses can implement an adapted operational management model. This coordinates ITIL processes with all third-party providers and is responsible for the ecosystem’s performance and operational management.

Making it a reality

We first discussed what the ideal looks like and what IT teams should strive for. Now that it’s been established, it’s time to consider how those three components can be implemented.

This combination of future-proofed, best-of-breed connectivity, SASE and digital management services is a core pillar of the Evolution Platform. It’s a methodology that goes beyond technical building blocks, creating a composable, high-performance, open platform that delivers agility, performance, security and personalized orchestration.

Fundamentally, anyone can acquire the tools and solutions needed, but not everyone has the capabilities to turn those tools into something that can drive business outcomes. Enterprises are looking for ways to map out where they should be in one, two or five years. They’re trying to determine their risks and how they become more agile. Working all that out internally, using existing resources, talent and skillsets, can be challenging.

The Evolution Platform provides a new approach to acquiring and deploying technology. Often, it can help to call on a trusted advisor who can adapt their services and support to what the customer needs rather than force the business down a specific route. For example, does the customer have the resources to manage everything themselves once they’ve acquired the right solutions, or would a managed service model suit their circumstances? Are they looking for a partner to develop a strategy and advise on what they should acquire? Or do they need someone to procure the right solutions and build and run them?

That’s why we developed the Evolution Platform. We’re uniquely positioned to help connect distributed organizations. That’s all down to our experience as both a global network provider and a multisourcing service integrator, our expert consultancy services and an ecosystem of leading technology vendors. That’s how we’ve supported the likes of BNP Paribas and Mars, Incorporated to secure and connect their operations.

Drawing on our ecosystem of market-leading partners, we offer businesses the solutions that meet their needs. This has helped us build offerings that connect distributed workforces, such as our partnership with Fortinet on SASE and creating Service Manage-Watch to supervise the performance of enterprise IT. Learn more about Evolution Platform and SASE.

Mohit Mitra
Mohit Mitra

With extensive experience in helping customers strategize and execute their Digital Infrastructure and Communication Transformation journeys, Mohit currently heads the Professional Services Business Development for France at Orange Business. As part of his current responsibilities, he is leading the Go-to-Market for Specialized Service Integrator business line of Orange Business (Multisourcing Service Integration : MSI – SIAM).