Network Challenges of a Remote Workforce

Ideally we need minimum disruption to service, but it’s hard to imagine how any organisation could have been totally prepared for the demand on services in such a short space of time. So what should those people charged with responsibility for enabling this technological shift do?

Homeworking is the new norm

Clearly businesses will review organisational preparedness and plan mitigation for the many challenges ahead, but the reality is that networking teams need to adjust for this new paradigm now. The reason is that when applications underperform the network is often at the centre of most of these problems. In times gone by a simple fix would be to throw more bandwidth at it. But such is the demand for services and applications, this may no longer be the answer.

Where do we go from here?

The best approach is to build a comprehensive testing programme at the heart of which should be a WAN emulator. WAN emulators such a Calnex’s SNE allow networking teams to model repeatable, accurate, real-world network conditions to truly determine end user experience. And since they are lab tools they are removed from the production network so there is no disruption to service.

Things to consider

Supporting a remote workforce presents a number of issues that need to be considered. Here are two…

  1. We have become hugely reliant on real-time applications such as tele and videoconferencing apps, but these apps are especially sensitive to poor quality network conditions. Engineers can model accessing them over simulated WiFi, mobile broadband and public internet connections and evaluate the user experience. See their likely behaviour when subject to increased latency or packet loss, or the reduced bandwidth consistent with a busy and congested network.

  2. More and more organisations are evaluating cloud applications such as Salesforce or Office 365, or moving their own applications to the cloud. Alternatively virtual desktop infrastructure is enabling remote working. Create a stressed network scenario to benchmark VDI vendors, establish SLAs with Cloud Service Providers or simply determine whether your legacy applications are cloud-ready in the first place.

In summary, WAN emulators provide insights into how devices, services and applications will perform under a wide range of network conditions. They help organisations plan and troubleshoot even worst-case scenarios. So whether facing a global crisis or at any other time you can plan, test and prepare your organisation’s readiness for all circumstances. In future posts I will discuss file sharing and security considerations.

Find out more about the test product here: Calnex SNE

Peter Whitten
Product Manager


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