What Have We Learned IT-Wise from COVID & Where Do We Go from Here?

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Thank you to Jeff Miller from our partner Arctic Wolf Network for this guest blog on the state of IT during COVID and how we can adapt to the new normal workforce

Pandemics underscore our humanity, highlight our ability to pivot, and force us to plan better for unexpected change in our workforce
Working from home in a pandemic has been interesting.

It was rocky for the first few weeks.  For some people, there was barely a blip on the radar.  Many companies had already been set up with workflows predominantly living in the cloud. Employees were used to carrying home corporate-issued laptops.  Cybersecurity solutions were in place that favored a mobile workforce. 

This wasn’t the case everywhere. As companies rapidly reached out to IT providers, laptops became as sparse as toilet paper, leaving some employees in a lurch.

Some had planned for the worst, some for a rainy day, and some not at all.

As the weeks roll on, it seems like we’re settling in fairly well technology-wise. Of course, there’s the occasional desperate shout, “Hey, would somebody please get off Netflix?  It’s messing with my Zoom meeting!’ Sound familiar?  Or the random screaming child, the barking dog, or that co-worker with the machine gun… err, um, the loud keyboard, not on mute.  These things may be a minor nuisance, or perhaps they highlight the humanity in all of us.  I, for one, enjoy seeing people at home, some men without a shave, some women in sweatpants, most of us seemingly less pretentious or concerned about outward appearances.

Here's the big question. 

“What have we learned IT-wise from COVID and what do we do going forward?”

On-premise SOC offerings that lack an agent are found to be weak and ineffective in remote worker environments.  It’s necessary to have an agent component to provide security, (mis)configuration, and local vulnerability information up to the cloud for analysis.  This ensures that remotely distributed corporate laptops, whether or not they go through a corporate VPN, are “phoning home” and providing important security context.  This kind of data is valuable, even when COVID is over and these corporate devices make their way back to the corporate network.

Many companies found that they were under-provisioned in their Citrix and VMware pools and were left scrambling to add compute and storage to under-sized virtual desktop infrastructure. In a similar vein, these same companies have found  they didn’t adequately plan for the huge influx of traffic to these virtual desktop pools. They had to scramble to get additional bandwidth from circuit providers for the remote desktop experience to not appear choppy or underperforming to their end users.

We’re now hearing a new trend from business owners and C-Suite -- give employees the option to continue working from home, even after the pandemic. 

What does this mean?

It means businesses will reap a cost savings in lease of physical space and utilities such as power and Internet. Yet, it also means that if a company doesn’t have a strong cloud and agent story, their security is sorely lacking.  It means they also must have a mobile device strategy in place with mobile device management policies applied to any device (personal or corporate) that accesses corporate data inside or outside a physical office.

From a policy perspective, companies have realized that “proper planning prevents poor performance,” as the old adage goes. Those with granular, tested, adjusted, and retested business continuity plans (BCPs) have gone largely unhindered during COVID. 

It’s not always possible to predict pandemics or natural disasters, but’s it’s essential to plan for them. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Companies are realizing now more than ever that BCP tabletop exercises and full-blown tests are essential to ensuring smooth failover and failback scenarios.

How do you think your business has fared so far during COVID? 

Just let us know when you're ready to move forward with us into this brave new world of IT.  

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