Most companies in this part of the world are preparing to operate a hybrid workforce, where staff split their time between the office and home.
Research by Gartner shows that 82 percent of companies across a range of sectors intend to permit remote working some of the time as employees return to the workplace. About 47 percent of companies will let employees work remotely all of the time.
Some companies already went through a difficult period either standing up new systems or scaling up existing systems to cope with the sudden increase in remote workers back in mid-March.
Businesses now find themselves in a much more agile environment, so the ability of cloud to scale up and down quickly in response to changing business requirements made it a strong choice. Almost half of businesses across Australia and New Zealand actually doubled their cloud consumption over the course of this pandemic period, driven by needs for remote access, collaboration and application performance optimisation.
In saying that, much of what was put in place initially were band-aid solutions to emerging challenges.
Now that the situation is stabilising, plans are being drawn up for the future of work. It is an optimal time to revisit emergency technology decisions, and to integrate them more tightly and cohesively to fit with longer term changes to our ways of working.
Driving to SASE
The “north star” for many businesses here is secure access service edge, or SASE.
SASE is the rethinking of security for the new world of remote offices, roaming users and beyond. It unifies networking and security services into a cloud-delivered service to provide access and security from wherever users require it. Technically, it combines VPN and SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-native security functions such as secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers, firewalls, and zero-trust network access.
Moving to a SASE model will be a gradual process as IT rethinks how to connect a remote workforce to the distributed information resources they need.
Cisco is well-positioned to help businesses optimise their multi-cloud setups and to move towards a SASE model to manage and secure their environments. We’ve accelerated our innovation agenda in order to help our customers address these new needs.
Innovation has always been critical to Cisco. It’s been at the heart of our success over the past 30 years. But the dramatic changes we’ve seen, particularly over the last 12 months, have driven it - and us - to the next level. We’re really excited about how some of this new innovation can directly benefit many of our customers.
In response to customers increasing their use of cloud, we’ve doubled down on our partnerships with the major providers so we can optimise the customer’s path to the cloud or to a software-as-a-service application. For example, through our partnership with Microsoft, the SD-WAN is able to understand application-level telemetry shared by the Office365 cloud. As a result, if you deem Outlook to be more important at a particular point in time, we can make sure its traffic is prioritised and the quality of experience is optimised as email traffic crosses the network.
We optimise traffic paths and minimise latency by extending our SD-WAN fabric right into the provider’s cloud, allowing us to exchange telemetry data and to make the right decisions as to how to route traffic types and under what circumstances. This allows remote users to avoid congestion and latency, optimises their experience and enhances security.
Our second area of innovation is the building blocks needed to enable and simplify SASE.
Today, SASE is best represented by the convergence of cloud-managed SD-WAN and cloud-delivered security. Briefly, these building blocks are:
- SD-WAN - helps ensure a predictable user experience for applications
- Cloud security - a set of technologies and applications to help you better manage security by extending controls to devices, remote users, and distributed locations anywhere in minutes. These include Umbrella for seamless area firewall-as-a-service and intrusion prevention; Duo for multi-factor authentication; Talos for threat intelligence; and Secure-X for a single pane of glass visibility across your network, endpoints, clouds, and applications.
- Zero trust network access - verifies users' identities and establishes device trust before granting them access to authorised applications
Between Cisco SD-WAN and Umbrella for cloud-delivered enterprise network security, we are making SASE real, accessible and consumable for businesses.
Our third innovation comes in the form of our next-generation SD-WAN, the Catalyst 8000 Edge Platform. It’s fair to say we have been asking more of our networks lately. The cloud has become the operating platform for the new enterprise, while SASE, multicloud architectures, and edge applications add new levels of complexity.
It’s time for us to revamp the WAN edge devices that handle the network traffic, to address these needs - and our new Catalyst 8000 family provides the security, performance, and agility our customers need. It has up to four times better throughput and three times better performance for SD-WAN services than our previous generation equipment; can transfer all this data in a secure, encrypted way; can run in physical or virtual form factors; and is more agile, open and programmable than ever before, with support for many cloud and management services.
Lastly, the innovation that has come through our recent acquisition of ThousandEyes is extremely timely. Given many businesses are now running most of their corporate traffic across the internet, optimising and securing these routes is absolutely critical, but has often been a blind spot for administrators.
By using ThousandEyes, businesses can see and understand what’s actually going on, what might be slowing down or breaking the network path between a cloud, service, data centre and the end user. Armed with that knowledge, businesses can proactively make changes and route around problems before they negatively impact the user’s experience.
To find out more, please watch our webinar on SD-WAN, SASE and multicloud.