Business Continuity

Moving Forward, and Returning to the Office

Planning for the transition back to the office. Leveraging technology to stay one step ahead.

All organizations have felt the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and have adapted the way we do business. For many, if not most, this has meant moving very quickly to a remote-work model. Now that that challenge has for the most part been met, it is time to start looking ahead to the next transition – getting back to the office. What will the “new normal” look like? How can we leverage technology to ease the transition and better prepare for the next unforeseen challenge? IntegraONE can help you stay ahead of the curve, plan, and eventually manage the transition back.

Brad Rightmyer

VP Service Delivery
brightmyer@integra1.net
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“Our top priority is to help our clients keep business going, while ensuring the well-being of their staff and customers. With our product expertise, and team of skilled engineers, we can navigate the changes with our clients, and set them up for the future.”

7 Things to Know: For the Hybrid Workplace

1. What to Watch for as Devices Come Back On-Premise

Monitor the patch status to OS and applications. Vulnerable devices, missing critical patches and updates, could pose a serious threat when connecting to the corporate network. Employees could unknowingly connect compromised devices. Typically on-network endpoints are configured to get OS and/or application patches pushed directly to them.  When the endpoints are taken off the network, to a home office, those updates may no longer be applied automatically.  This means the employee’s endpoint is going to potentially be missing critical security updates when it is put back on the wire.  It also means that the update server in the office is going to have to push a lot of patches out to everyone at the same time.  Many times, those updates will also require a restart. Download our Managed Services datasheet

Remember that remote employees may have stored data locally on their device. When employees are in the office they can save their data to a network share, which is being backed up.  When that share isn’t available, your employees will save data locally on their devices.  This means the data isn’t located centrally for others to access or backed up.  When people come back to the office they will potentially need to copy everything they did “offline” back up to the network.

Additionally, While working from home, it’s possible files and applications once blocked by corporate security controls, could have been downloaded to corporate devices. Admins may need to sanitize files, and remove undesirable software before synchronizing with corporate servers. Learn more about IntegraONE Storage and Backup Solutions.

Check the Virus and Malware status of the asset. When employees are on the network, Antivirus software is pushed to their assets automatically. Their endpoint gets its updates from a central server on the network.  When they are disconnected, they may not be getting those updates.  This means employee’s endpoint could potentially be less protected and/or compromised.  When they bring it back to the office, it could allow malicious software to spread to your entire network until the endpoint is updated.

Tip: Solutions exist that are capable of detecting vulnerabilities and patch management regardless of physical location. You may want to consider implementing a solution like this, before employees return to the network. Learn more about IntegraONE Security Solutions.

2. How to Detect Security Vulnerabilities when Getting Back On-Premises

One of the most important proactive security measure you can take as an IT professional is to keep assets updated– patching, AV/AM, ect.. Products can generally be configured to push centralized updates when an endpoint is on the wire, or allow for distributed, or internet based updates when they are not on the internal network.  If properly configured, this will allow endpoints to continue to receive critical patches and AV updates when employees are working from home. For Windows updates, you can push updates from a central server on the network, and/or allow end users to manually check and preform updates from their endpoints. Microsoft pushes out updates at 1PM eastern on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  As long as your employees know to check for updates after that time, they can manually downloaded and install the updates.  Depending on the type of update, a reboot might be required.

Pro Tip: Review any polices or security profiles that may have been adjusted to scale your remote workforce quickly. You could have created larger than normal holes in your network that can leave you vulnerable. You need to review any changes made, to see if they need to be adjusted or closed completely. If you adopted a very relaxed security policy during this time, you may wish to implement quarantine networks to properly update and sanitize returning devices before connecting to corporate resources. Learn more about IntegraONE Security Solutions.

3. How to Prepare your Network for the Increased Load

You will need to take into account the increased load on your networks and internet connections as assets come back in to the office and get pushed updates they may have been missing. Update servers are typically set to push updates to a subset of endpoints at any given time to make sure they don’t overwhelm the network.  However, when everyone turns on their PC’s at their desks, or brings back the laptops they have been using at home, they will all request updates at the same time. This will put a much bigger burden on the network. Learn more about IntegraONE Networking Solutions.

4. Creating a Seamless Hybrid Workplace

In the ‘new normal’, students and employees will need flexibility in moving from their home to their school or office. Make that transition safe and seamless with Aruba Networks solutions. Aruba & IntegraONE network solutions can assure that employees will be able to access their network and business critical applications, securely, whether at home or at work.

COVID-19 contact tracing is top of mind as students and employees return to an on-prem or hybrid work environment. Use your network to minimize risk and log potential exposure quickly. In many cases, your current network solution has inherent features that support these initiatives. Implementing contact tracing can help you better understand your exposure and respond with critical efficiency.

5. How to Manage Remote Data Files

Data that may have been stored on local devices and will need to be placed back on corporate assets, stored centrally, and backed up. If an employee was using their own device, or storing data locally, they will have to review any content they created and make sure it is manually moved back to the appropriate network share. 

Data may need to be cleaned off of remote assets for compliance. Endpoints typically should not store sensitive data–like personnel records and payroll information. However this data could have been copied to an employee’s device while they were working from home, or worse, copied to a device not owned by the company. This data must be removed as you transition back to normal in-office operation. Learn more about IntegraONE Data Center and Hybrid IT solutions.

6. How to Achieve Financial Flexibility & Conserve Operating Capital

In response to COVID-19, financial flexibility and conserving cash flow will be essential to your return to office work, and adapting to unforeseen challenges in the future. In partnership with our ecosystem of leading IT vendors, IntegraONE can help you navigate the IT financing landscape, including XaaS solutions, leasing options, subscription and consumption payment models, etc. Take a look at a few key vendor solutions below to get started.

Relieving hardware costs:

As businesses look to alleviate the unanticipated strain of today’s reality, there are several payment and asset management options from our financing partners that can help ease some of the challenges. New financing offers include:

1.       Defer or Reduce Expenses for 90 Days or Through 2020

2.       Generate Cash from Assets Already Installed

3.       Match Payments to Use

4.       Relieve Short Term Needs

5. Take Advantage of Zero Percent Financing Options

Relieving IT infrastructure costs:

HPE Financial Services can help alleviate some of the strain felt by organizations as they navigate an uncertain business climate. From helping release capital from existing infrastructures, to deferring payments, and providing pre-owned tech to relieve capacity strain, HPE Financial Services has the ability to help address some of the most pressing issues quickly.

Flexibility and Savings with Consumption IT:

HPE GreenLake is an as-a-service, pay-per-use offering that brings the cloud experience to apps and data everywhere. GreenLake allows you to start with the capacity you need today and grow with business demand, leveraging active capacity management, variable monthly payments based on metered usage, and services that simplify IT.

7. How to Leverage Managed Services As Part of Your IT Management Strategy

With the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis affecting the way organizations manage their IT environments, Managed Services can be a welcome support. The rapid switch to remote work brought with it new and perhaps greater network and hardware challenges. The next transition, back to the office, will bring its own share of difficulty, as well as opportunity for futureproofing.

If you are ready to consult with an IntegraONE expert, and assess your organizational needs, contact IntegraONE here.

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Still Scaling Your Telework Strategy?

If you are implementing a telework strategy, here are a few important things to consider: 1. Capacity of internet connections to onsite resources and cloud resources 2. Secure access to onsite resources 3. Security of cloud resources 4. User Documentation – details on how to access their tools 5. Who will be monitoring and managing your environment? 6. Take stock of the resources you have in place today to provide remote access (VPN, VDI etc.), and check your licensing and capacity for them. 7. Decide how your users will access resources when they are remote. VPN? VDI? Cloud? 8. When scaling an existing solution, consider a) the limitations of your hardware platforms (users/bandwidth), b) the necessary licensing, and c) user support

Telework Resources & Special Offers

1. Meet VDI Needs for Critical Applications

2. Collaboration

Cisco is extending their WebEx trial to 90 days with extended enterprise capabilities. Email our IntegraONE Cisco Specialist to get started. Or, consult these helpful IT Admin Resources.

3. Security for the Remote User

Cisco is also offering security solutions around home endpoints and VPN, including:

· Cisco Umbrella

· Cisco’s Duo Security

· Cisco AnyConnect

4. Endpoints

The increase in remote work comes with increased demand for adequate home devices. HP already has a portfolio of end-point options that are tailored for the remote worker’s specific needs.